Over the past month, 39 MHM staff members from across the country have been attending Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). Nicola, who attended one of the two-day workshops, told us a bit more about what the training involves and what she thought of it.

When I found out Neil and Dan, two of MHM’s registered ASIST Trainers, were running another round of ASIST workshops I jumped at the chance to do this course. I’d heard a lot of good things about the course, and as our team had recently all done the Zero Suicide Alliance online training, I really wanted to gain some more skills and confidence to make sure I can help prevent suicide.

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is a two-day interactive workshop in suicide first aid, devised by Living Works in Canada and used all over the world. ASIST teaches participants to recognise when someone may have thoughts of suicide and work with them to create a plan that will support their immediate safety. You can read more about ASIST in this info sheet.

Neil and Dan have been busy over the past month as they delivered this two-day course to three groups, two in Middlesbrough and one in Coventry. A total of 39 people attended the three sessions, and I joined the first course in Middlesbrough. There were people there from every type of service MHM provides, so it was also a wonderful opportunity to meet some of my colleagues for the first time! I think it’s brilliant that MHM offer this training to staff, regardless of what job they do within the organisation. Although I work in our Central Office and not directly with clients, the course has given me skills to help people not only at work but in my personal life as well.

The course takes two days. On the first day we learned some startling facts and statistics about suicide to put the course in context, and as a group we explored some of our attitudes and beliefs about suicide, with some really thought-provoking exercises and discussions. In the afternoon we began learning about the framework Living Works devised for keeping people safe from suicide. It was quite overwhelming at first, but Neil and Dan did a great job of taking us through things step by step.

On the second day we learned the ‘first aid’ framework in more depth, really going over the reasons behind each element and how to adapt it to different situations.

Neil and Dan did a great job of creating a safe, non-judgemental atmosphere so that everyone could learn and experiment. Neil is a really fantastic trainer, as he’s one of only 40 people in the UK to have achieved ASIST’s ‘Master Trainer’ status. He has delivered the course more than a dozen times and trained 130+ MHM staff in suicide first aid! Although Dan is newer to delivering ASIST he also did a brilliant job, and the fact that the quality of the ASIST course is accredited and monitored by Living Works offers a lot of assurance that you’re receiving really good-quality training.

I came away from the end of the second day feeling really empowered, and confident that in a real-life situation I would be able to stay calm and do my best to help the person stay safe. In the past I’ve had times when I’ve been very worried about friends and family, but never quite knew what to say or how I could help them – if I’m ever in a similar situation in future, I know I’ll be able to handle it very differently.

MHM deliver lots of mental health training, including suicide awareness and ASIST, to workplaces across the country. Visit our Corporate Training page to find out more, or email [email protected].

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