Training as a mental health first aider, blog by Barry Hancox

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 11th February 2019

Mental health is finally being talked about, which is great news. But it is still stigmatised and we need to do more to detract from this

I have enjoyed a lifetime career in hospitality. I have no regrets, have enjoyed it enormously and still retain the passion. Regardless, I have suffered depression for many years and a traumatic event last year led to my hospitalisation.

 Now, I’m moving on as a result of two significant factors:

  • Writing about the issues (You can read my blog at FoodbyBazza)
  • Helping others with mental health problems

I recently qualified as a Mental Health First Aider. I volunteer weekly at a drop-in centre for local charity, Springfield Mind, which is affiliated to MIND, where I recently became a one-to-one mentor.

Springfield Mind is at the forefront of tackling mental health issues locally. The Mental Health First Aid course is nationally recognised and Springfield Mind have a brilliant course tutor, Paul, who openly uses his personal experiences to illustrate issues.

Without doubt, working in hospitality can be stressful due to the pressures and unsociable working hours, particularly so in the kitchen.

It’s time, then, to adopt Mental Health First Aid in the same way we have physical first aid to address the issues in the industry.

Mental Health First Aid is about identifying, understanding and helping someone who may have issues. It’s about low-level response; you are not taught how to be therapist.

You learn how to listen, reassure and respond to a situation and to prevent a crisis. You learn how to recognise warning signs of mental health issues; knowledge of support structures to aid recovery is an essential part of the learning process as well as management of the symptoms.

Primarily, you learn how to approach and support an individual and start up a referral process. Referral can be to a GP, place of work, a support group, and more. 

Often, issues are as a result of stigma. We all need to have the ability to support positive wellbeing and overcome the taboo of mental health conditions.

So, the key learning factors are approach, assess and assist, listen, give support and encourage further professional help and support.

About Barry Hancox

Barry Hancox has spent over 40 years working in the hospitality industry. He was a House Manager at Duke’s Hotel in St James’s before relocating to the Cotswolds nearly 30 years ago to the Lygon Arms Hotel.

Since leaving The Lygon 15 years ago, Barry has owned and run two restaurants, and played a role in the launch of several delis and food retail outlets in the Cotswolds as a consultant. 

Barry's interest in mental health issues has grown in recent years, particularly within the hospitality industry. He is a qualified Mental Health First Aider and he volunteers regularly with Springfield Mind. 


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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 11th February 2019

Training as a mental health first aider, blog by Barry Hancox