Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid week 2

For last week’s post, click here.

So. Another week of SMHFA training. This week we covered some mental illnesses: depression, anxiety, and psychosis.

Again, I have experience of all three of these things, so was able to contribute to the discussion. Again, I was thanked for my contributions at the end.

However, in the Australian video material, there was a massive focus on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which I found difficult. CBT seems to be the ‘first line’ in talking therapies here in the UK (and you’re hugely lucky if there’s a ‘second line’ at all).

I had CBT when I was 20. I had six one hour sessions, and was then sent away to get on with ‘putting the theory into practice’, with no follow-up. Needless to say, I failed to do so. I was great at the cognitive (thinking) part of it, could come up with the ‘right’ solutions to all of my problems by imagining what I would say to another person in my position, but because I didn’t believe it to be true for myself, I was rubbish at the behaviour bit. And that’s the bit that really matters.

I am lucky, in that I now see a psychologist who uses aspects of different types of therapies with me (yes, including  (limited) CBT at appropriate times), but not everyone is so lucky. For some people, CBT is it. It either works for you, or it doesn’t, but that’s all there is on offer. And to see it being held up as some sort of ‘answer to all mental illnesses’ was hard to watch.

That aside, I really enjoyed the SMHFA course. Although I didn’t learn as much as some others may have, due to my lived experience of mental ill health, I still think it was a worthwhile thing to do, and would recommend it to others.

So, what next? I’m thinking of signing up for the Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid – Young People (SMHFA-YP) course some time soon, as I think it would be really useful in my voluntary work with young people. Watch this space!


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