What does a mental health first aid course look like?


What does a mental health first aid course look like?

28 Aug 2019 by: Alden Arnold

I want to share with you my experience of completing a mental health first aider course...

Our Cross-Association Event Industry HR group has a long-term objective to address mental health awareness, and well-being of its people within the industry.

As a result, the group built a relationship with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England —and after a session introducing mental health first aid to the group, 16 members attended MHFA’s Champion training whilst the group vice chair, the director of finance hr & admin for the Event Industry Alliance and I all attended the two-day first aider course.

Why did I want to go on the course?

I believe I am able to manage my own reactions to the realities of mental health and be able to provide comfort for those experiencing times of trouble. My own life has been filled with the ups and downs most have probably experienced at some point (bullying, anxiety, stress and loss) and I have found ways to cope with the stresses and trauma life can bring.
More importantly, I care. I care about my own mental health but also that of the colleagues family I work with day after day – beyond recognising the importance of mental well-being in the workplace, I genuinely have regard for the people I see more often than even my own family, and I know what it is like to go through some challenges that others may face. However, I wanted to gain a structural method of training to be able to provide the correct first aid to whoever may require it.

What was my experience of the course?

Two days of on-point, structured training; delivered extremely slickly with brilliant pastoral care. The topics covered for some could be close to home and the course leader always had that in mind and would check to see if we were all okay. In other words, it was expertly led.

The supporting and inclusive atmosphere made everyone welcome. By the end of day two we all had shared a unique learning experience. Collectively, through personal experiences, presentations, group discussions and workshop activities, we gained practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues; we enhanced our own interpersonal skills, and given the confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress.

The course manual provided and action plan taught is a great source of continual reference. I consider it an honour to have been nominated to attend the training on behalf of my colleagues.

The result

By doing this, we are able to encourage colleagues to access support when needed and empower colleagues, who may have a long-term mental health issue or disability, to thrive at work. We can stop preventable health issues arising by building supportive, open cultures around mental health and embed a positive long-term change across our organisations.
We all now know that we work for an organisation that has a culture for care which gives us all a head start.



  • "Great day hosting our first AEV working group event!..WOW did I learn a lot and some great insights into how other venues work and the challenges they are trying to overcome. If you are a venue looking to network with other like minded professionals I would recommend looking at joining the AEV".
    Danielle Worker
    Corporate Events Team Leader, Silverstone Circuits Ltd
  • "“Great essential for a successful venue. The AEV provides a platform to establish consistent best practice in this field"
    Phil Wetz
    Retail & Catering Manager, ExCeL London
  • “The AEV provides collective representation for its member venues, turning individual commitment into a group effort"
    Paul Brough
    Venue Health & Safety Manager, Olympia London
  • "Proud to be part of this Cross Association discussion. I am confident in our ability to improve and progress our working platform through conversation".
    Amir Vered
    Head of eForce and IT, Olympia London (Chair of Cross Association Technology WG)
  • “The AEV is essential to the venue sector’s ability to cooperate and collaborate"
    Jazmin Beale
    Head of Marketing & Communications, Olympia London
  • “The AEV undertakes crucial work on behalf of event venues up and down the country to ensure our voice is heard. They reinforce the important role our sector plays in delivering economic impact, increasing trade, providing jobs and driving the visitor economy.”
    Lucy Merritt
    Head of Marketing and Communications, ExCeL London
  • AEV Membership is a key part of our business strategy; it has and will continue to be a core elements of our plan to support knowledge sharing in the industry and to develop both our team and the venue.
    Kate Vandenburg
    Marketing Director - Business Design Centre
  • Our team at ACC Liverpool feel indebted to the substantial work that the AEV do for our amazing industry. As the pillar association for venues across the country it’s a real privilege for our teams to participate in many of the working groups, learning and contributing to new processes which helps drive our industry forward on a national scale.
    Colm Graham
    Senior Exhibition Account Manager, ACC Liverpool
  • We have benefited hugely from all of the insight, discussion, events and networking, but it has also meant that we have been able to give back to the industry by sharing our unique experiences and professional knowledge and allowing our employees to help lead and shape the Association from the inside.
    Mathew James
    Head of Brand, Telford International Centre
  • “The AEV has been an invaluable asset to us as a company and the wider industry, helping to lobby on the industries behalf, consolidating and distributing information and facilitating vital knowledge sharing.”
    Charlie Hodgson
    Managing Director at The Kia Oval