Mental Health First Response™ – Supporting ourselves and each other

October 10th is World Mental Health Day, an annual initiative recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of attending to the mental health and wellbeing of yourself and others.

The theme this year, as set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’.

According to WHO, mental health conditions are increasing worldwide, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased use of social media, alcohol and drugs all being contributing factors. As well, the world is also struggling to cope with effect of the war in Ukraine, climate emergency and a cost-of-living crisis. Such challenging and uncertain times have consequences for us all.

The WHO’s largest review of world mental health since the turn of the century was released earlier this year and revealed some alarming findings:

  • In 2019, nearly a billion people – including 14% of the world’s adolescents – were living with a mental disorder.
  • Suicide accounted for more than 1 in 100 deaths and 58% of suicides occurred before age 50.
  • Mental disorders are one of the leading causes of disability, causing 1 in 6 years lived with disability.
  • People with severe mental health conditions die on average 10 to 20 years earlier than the general population.
  • Depression and anxiety increased by more than 25% in the first year of the pandemic alone.

Changing our response to and preventing mental illness undoubtedly begins with education and training. Mental health training has the most significant impact when it focuses on growing awareness and empowering individuals to build resilience and recognise when others need support.

At Digital Bricks Learning, we developed our Mental Health First Response™ course to empower people to support the mental health of themselves and others – at a time when it has never been more important.

What is Mental Health First Response™?

Mental Health First Response™ (MHFR) is essentially about people coming together, looking for signs and symptoms, and knowing how to respond effectively. It’s about building the skills of everyday people when it comes to recognising distress and reaching out.

CPD certified within a global accreditation programme, our unique course looks at what mental health means and how it can affect our lives. It explores the different conditions that people may experience and what we can do to help them and ourselves. As well, how reducing stigma and changing culture can help us all live mentally healthier lives.

Delivered by a team of highly skilled and passionate trainers from diverse backgrounds, the course is responsive, based on real-life learned experiences, and adapted to each audience group’s specific needs.

How does it differ from other mental health training?

MHFR is a great standalone training course. It is flexible and customisable so it can be delivered online, in person, in bitesized chunks or through in depth sessions. It also complements other excellent mental health training delivered around the country. MHFR includes up to date statistics, information about current healthcare services, advice on coping with change in an uncertain world, and how to deal with issues like stress and loneliness.

Who is it for?

The value of the Mental Health First Response™ training goes much wider than just workplaces. Quite simply it’s for everyone – from parents, partners and carers to managers, teachers and volunteers. MHFR is beneficial for anyone looking to understand and improve their knowledge about mental health and to learn the skills to support their own and others’ positive wellbeing.

It’s a flexible programme and can be adapted to suit different audience groups. We recently supported The Calzy Foundation, a suicide awareness charity, in delivering the training to young adults suffering from mental health trauma or crisis and who may have been impacted by peer suicide. Read their story here.

The key life skills it teaches

MHFR training gives people the skills to notice, act and effectively signpost to support resources for those experiencing anxiety, stress and other conditions. It encourages tenacity and perseverance in getting support, developing life skills we can all use in our everyday lives. These include:


Building resilience is at the heart of our training and you’ll receive a package of self-care and evidence-based strategies for dealing with your own and others’ wellbeing.

Active listening

The art of listening is the greatest form of communication, yet it’s something we can so easily get wrong. Active listeners engage fully to understand the person speaking to them, giving a platform to be heard and understood.


People who suffer from poor mental health can be vulnerable, they need someone who can really understand their situation and reassure them. By developing your empathetic skills, you will be more attuned to the feelings of others. This can help you pick up on something that may be wrong when someone is struggling in silence.

Non-judgmental attitude

One of the most important skills you can develop is that of an open and non-judgmental attitude when dealing with someone who has a mental health issue. Being able to demonstrate complete understanding will make others feel more at ease and able to discuss their problems with you.


Increasing your confidence in dealing with mental health and encouraging open conversations will benefit both you and those around you. Confidence allows you to be more adept at handling different situations and will allow you to respond quicker when others need support.

Importantly, MHFR also trains people how to look after their own mental health and wellbeing – something we all need to get better at!

Final thoughts…

This year’s World Mental Health Day theme provides an opportunity to rekindle efforts to make the world a better place. It provides a chance to reflect on how we can each contribute to making a positive difference to the mental health of those around us.

Everyone’s life touches someone with a mental health condition. Change will happen when people come together, look for and recognise the signs and symptoms of those struggling with their mental health. You don’t have to be a health professional to make a difference. Let’s take care of ourselves and each other and continue to keep mental health awareness at the top of the agenda. Join us in building a world where everyone has a trusted someone who can notice if they are struggling and can reach out to start a caring conversation that helps connect them to support.

At Digital Bricks Learning, we are incredibly proud of the mental health and wellbeing training we provide and care deeply about the work that we do – changing lives, one training at a time. We’d love to share our knowledge, skills and expertise with you. Please get in touch to find out more.