For far too long issues surrounding mental health have been stigmatised or completely taboo in wider society. With figures showing that one in six working-age adults show symptoms associated with mental ill health, it is crucial that everyone has an awareness and understanding of the subject. This year for Mental Health Awareness Week, we are highlighting our fantastic centres that are pioneering change and opening a dialogue through our Level 1 Award in Mental Health Awareness. So that together we can produce industry pioneers who know it’s okay to open up, as well as how to show compassion and empathy when someone reaches out for support.
Tomorrow’s generation of practitioners is already gaining awareness of the crucial part they can play in the fight against the stigmatisation of mental health issues. When asked what mental health awareness meant to them, Mac-Ed Training Academy learner, Kaylie Velasquez, says, “It means stopping the stigma surrounding mental health and educating people about what it really is, as well as showing people that they are not alone by sharing our experiences with each other.”
Alison Edwards from VTCT training provider Mac-Ed Training Academy recognises the responsibility this places on professionals within the industry. She says, “Within our sector, we meet so many different people who may be struggling with their own mental health. They do tend to confide their deepest thoughts to their stylists and therapists, so enabling our future stylists and therapists with knowledge of how to offer support and guidance, can only lead to a positive outcome.”
Mac-Ed Training Academy boasts a portfolio of qualifications ranging from beauty to hairdressing and barbering. The centre was established by Alison and her business partner Emma Macmillan in 2019. Alison’s combined passions for the hair sector and education has spanned over 20 years, pouring her expertise into moulding successful, enthusiastic and confident professionals.
The provider is one of the pioneering centres to deliver the Level 1 Award in Mental Health Awareness, one of the qualifications available within our Mental Health Awareness suite. Throughout the course, learners develop an understanding of what constitutes good mental health and mental ill-health and how to recognise the signs and symptoms of a number of mental health conditions. Learners also develop an awareness of the types of support available for mental health conditions and how to access them.
For the learners at the centre, this qualification has been a gateway to opening up a dialogue about the complexities of mental health as well as an eye-opening demonstration on showing compassion and support to anyone they encounter that may be suffering. Kaylie says, “I feel that because I have a better understanding of the conditions, symptoms and effects that mental health issues can have, I will be able to identify the symptoms in an individual far easier and guide that person to the correct support options for them. I have gained more confidence in dealing with a crisis and to take better steps that would lead to better outcomes.”
Alison recognises that it is not only crucial for learners to understand how to support people around them that may be struggling, but also to develop the ability to spot the signs when they are struggling themselves. Whilst delivering the mental health qualification at her centre she has woven in her own experiences with the subject matter to shatter the stigma of opening up and showing her learners real-world examples of caring for their own wellbeing. “I feel that mental health has always been a taboo subject within our industry, and now at last we can discuss it and allow learners to understand issues that they, their friends or their clients may have. After suffering for many years with my own mental ill health issues, I feel that I was able to give an honest account of how support helped me through various stages of my life. Using myself as an example, where appropriate, during the course delivery helped the learners to see that it can impact anyone,” she says, “The knowledge and understanding of how to keep yourself healthy is sometimes missing from people’s lives and the qualification allows the learner to identify their own thoughts and feelings so that they can seek the right support at the right time, and know that they are not alone.”
Find out more about our Mental Health Qualifications and our special Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention Webinar.