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New mental health support for Armed Forces community

The first fully qualified Welsh Instructor rolls out training

For the first time ever, the Armed Forces community in Wales can now access a specifically designed Armed Forces Mental Health First Aid (AFMHFA) training course which will support those affected by mental ill health. Squadron Leader David Bentley-Miller RAF VR(T), of Skewen is the first Welsh Instructor to be trained in the Department of Health funded programme and will start to roll out the AFMHFA training from April March 2014, with his first course to be held at RAF St Athan in May.

In April 2013 the Department of Health launched AFMHFA – a new initiative which will ultimately train 6,600 members of the wider Armed Forces community in the mental health equivalent of first aid skills. The programme has been designed and rolled out by MHFA England, in collaboration with military charities, SSAFA, Combat Stress and the Royal British Legion (RBL).

The Department of Health has committed £600,000 from the LIBOR funds to finance this programme, a proportion of which will cover the cost of recruiting and training 200 AFMHFA Instructors who will then be qualified to deliver the two-day training course to the wider Armed Forces community. The next Instructors course to run in Wales will be held in Cardiff from 10 June 2014 – to find out how to apply visit www.mhfaengland.org

42 year old David Bentley-Miller, who is the Chief Executive of the mental health charity POBL and a vociferous mental health champion, has already attended the seven-day AFMHFA Instructor course and is now preparing to deliver the training to the wider Armed Forces community in Wales.

David says:

I am passionate about increasing the mental health literacy of our Armed Forces community and believe there is a critical need in Wales for this kind of support.  Along with the issues that are faced by our serving personnel, veterans, young and old, can also struggle to adapt back into civilian life and this can lead to mental health issues emerging.  I believe the AFMHFA initiative will encourage members of the Armed Forces community to start talking about mental health in a positive way and highlight some of the warning signs that emerge when someone is developing a mental health issue.  The earlier those signs and symptoms are spotted, the quicker the intervention and the more positive their recovery will be. I would be delighted to hear from anyone who thinks this training is something that they or those they know could benefit from.

The AFMHFA course has been specifically designed to reflect the unique needs of the Armed Forces community and will train people to:

  • Increase their understanding of mental health
  • Increase their understanding of military culture
  • Increase their personal resilience
  • Spot the early signs of a mental health problem
  • Feel confident helping someone experiencing a problem
  • Provide help on a first aid basis
  • Help prevent someone from hurting themselves or others
  • Help stop a mental health problem from getting worse
  • Help someone recover faster
  • Guide someone towards the right support
  • Reduce the stigma of mental health problems

Those interested in attending the two day AFMHFA training course, delivered by David Bentley-Miller should contact him on (01792) 516166 / 07581 334720 or visit www.pobl.org.uk

Further information about the Armed Forces Mental Health First Aid programme and how to apply for Instructor training can be found at www.mhfaengland.org