AXA UK Mental Health Training helps Girlguiding Cymru
‘There are often unexpected mental health issues cropping up when you see children week on week, that we are coming across for the first time.’ Dawn Clayton, the Division Commissioner at Girlguiding Cymru.
The importance of mental health training when working with young people
Struck by the escalation in mental health concerns amongst young people following the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, Dawn Clayton, the Division Commissioner at Girlguiding Cymru, signed up for the AXA UK Head Coaches programme.
Dawn explained that, as she works with young people aged between seven to 14 and young leaders aged between 14-25, the mental health issues she comes across can vary widely and range from social anxieties to separation anxieties from parents or carers.
BITC and AXA UK collaborate to tackle youth mental health
BITC has partnered with AXA UK to deliver fully funded mental health first aid training for youth leaders. The training covers a range of skills, including how to understand and recognise mental health issues and the ways these can affect young people. Learning how to advocate for mental health awareness and support positive wellbeing.
‘I especially liked the way the programme was structured using the manual and breakout sessions and with plenty of time for discussion and feedback.’Dawn Clayton, Division Commissioner, Girlguiding Cymru
How the training can help
Following her participation in the AXA UK Head Coaches programme, Dawn felt better equipped to deal with urgent or immediate mental health concerns than she had previously. She also highlighted that her language and approach have changed to specific subjects such as suicide or self-harm and the general mental health of young people. Commenting on the way the training was delivered, she said:
‘I especially liked how the programme was structured using the manual and breakout sessions and with plenty of time for discussion and feedback.’
Returning to her role after the training, Dawn has worked with 120+ young people. Now, she feels she can confidently acknowledge mental health situations, particularly self-harm and suicide risks, and discuss them with the person concerned – something she had never felt able to do before the training. This means that Girlguiding Cymru now has a confident adult whom the other local guiding units can call upon for help if needed, meaning that young people can be signposted to the appropriate professional help quickly through earlier recognition of potential concerns arising from observation or disclosure.
Further action inspired by the training
As well as being able to manage mental health concerns she encounters confidently, Dawn has also started to deliver yoga and relaxation sessions within the Guiding sessions. She said this is a great way of winding down and de-stressing the young people she works with and providing them with a healthy coping strategy for study and exam pressures. She has also held frank and open discussions about cyberbullying and emotional, physical and domestic abuse as part of White Ribbon Day in conjunction with regional police experts to raise awareness and share guidance.
For Dawn, the sessions were particularly useful in illustrating how vital knowledge can be when approaching mental health concerns and worked to improve Dawn’s confidence levels enough to motivate further research and action. Going forward, she hopes to take her training further to develop her skills to provide some focused mental health and wellbeing sessions for young people and teenagers.
find out more about Youth Mental Health First Aid Champion Training