Promoting healthy minds conference Jersey .:
Mind Jersey and Victoria College collaborated to provide a two day event for the first time at the Radisson Blu Hotel in St Helier on the 4th and 5th July 2016
Delegates from all over the island of Jersey attended, embracing this unique opportunity that provided an informative and creative space which facilitated learning in how to recognise, support and prevent mental health issues in children and young people
Vital messages were conveyed highlighting the importance of working together and many examples of best practice were shared. The first day was open to professionals and volunteers who work with children and young people. The second day was open to 14 to 18 year olds in the morning and to parents on the evening. Representatives from general practice, schools and colleges and many other agencies attended. Not only did they have the chance to hear excellent speakers and benefit from attending workshops, they also had the opportunity to network and visit the market place area where numerous key agencies and charities, including MHFA England, provided stands with additional resources and information.
Alun Watkins the Headteacher of Victoria College and Liz Kendrick-Lodge who is service development manager for Mind Jersey welcomed the 200 delegates. Liz is a qualified Mental Health Fist Aid Instructor having completed her training in 2014, she is very active in delivering courses along with her colleague Stephen McCrimmon. The conference was opened by Education Minister Deputy Rod Bryans who shared his own experience of difficulties with mental health which highlighted how we can all connect with the subject. He was followed by Natasha Devon MBE who has been named by Debrett’s this year as one of the 20 most influential people in British Education.
Natasha is founder of The Self Esteem Team and works with schools, teenagers and their parents with mental health and body image issues. She thanked Rod Bryans for his honesty and openness and also shared her own issues with mental health as a young person. The message was very clear and endorsed many of the principles of MHFA. We aim to raise awareness and reduce stigma by talking openly about mental illness therefore removing the fear which exists in many and prevents them from engaging and offering support. Natasha combines passion for the subject with remarkable insight, integrity and humour, she is truly inspirational.
Julian Radcliffe who is the principal educational psychologist for the States of Jersey Education presented with Dr Carolyn Coverley, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist with Jersey CAMHS, the implementation for the Islands mental health strategy. It aims to coordinate the prevention and early intervention strand for 5 – 19 year olds. Julian highlighted the key messages in that it is everyone’s business, we need to work together and we need to get in early. He also emphasised a huge amount of continuing professional development was available through the Education support team and the friends programme. There are emotional literacy support assistants in schools and personal and social health education has been made statutory.
James le Feuvre, executive director for Mind Jersey shared how he was very encouraged by the positive response not only to the conference but also for the forthcoming mental health awareness week. Dick Moore, another MHFA instructor and trainer for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust spoke next about his own experience of the tragic death of his son by suicide and again highlighted the need for awareness and understanding. Dick’s unique approach to one of the most difficult topic areas enabled delegates to connect through his accessible, engaging warmth and charisma.
Belinda Heaven who is one of the national trainers for MHFA represented the organisation in delivering two workshops. Belinda has worked with MHFA and the University of Bristol in developing the schools based programmes. She shared her experiences with the first workshop and highlighted how MHFA courses not only benefit children and young people but also impact well upon professionals. The research has shown how increased knowledge and understanding along with feeling more confident and competent has improved staff wellbeing. Belinda’s second workshop focused upon understanding and supporting self harm. The significant increase in recent years has impacted upon professional’s anxiety and feelings of inadequacy in how to deal with it. She offered practical advice as well as acknowledging the potential distress self harm can cause. She facilitated understanding through activities, discussion and using a film clip from a young person’s perspective. The large workshops were well attended and delegates engaged well providing very positive feedback.