Norwich university to introduce mental health first aid course

UEA - University of East Anglia.

UEA - University of East Anglia. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Students studying at a Norwich university are to be offered mental health first aid training to spot the early warning signs of mental illness.

The University of East Anglia's (UEA) school of psychology and students' union (SU) have teamed up to run the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA).

The scheme will launch this academic year, starting with two staff members – one from the students' union and one from the school of psychology - becoming certified MHFA instructors.

They will provide on-campus training in the autumn to a group of 48 student leaders, and this training will then be extended to psychology students. MHFA is an international qualification which enables people to help those with a developing a mental health problem or experiencing a worsening of an existing one.

The announcement comes after criticism of UEA's mental health and wellbeing support provision. Former SU officer Jo Swo said the university's policy did 'little to reassure students that the scale of the mental health crisis facing students at UEA is being addressed'.

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And student mental health was put in the spotlight earlier this month when researchers found almost five times as many students as 10 years ago have disclosed a mental health condition.

The training at UEA has been made possible by the alumni fund, made up of donations from UEA alumni which supports projects to enhance the student experience.

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India Edwards, UEA SU welfare, community and diversity officer, said: 'We're very excited to get this support from the alumni fund to develop and train our student leaders to support the wider student community. Promoting wellbeing and good mental health is important work, one which is a growing priority for students and staff alike. This is reflected in the collaboration between us and the School of Psychology, and we would love to see more of this proactive partnership approach to addressing mental health across the whole University community.'

Professor of learning and teaching in psychology Neil Cooper said: 'Psychology students take a wealth of skills into the workplace and this initiative offers a great opportunity to strengthen applied skills which complement their academic studies while making a positive impact on the campus community.'

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