There are plenty of different types of support out there, and a Mental Health First Aider (MHFAider) can help you access the support you need to feel better. MHFAiders are a point of contact if you, or someone you are concerned about, are experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. They are not therapists or psychiatrists but they can give you initial support and signpost you to appropriate help if required.
St Mary's currently has 16 trained MHFAiders accross the university. You can find out more about them and their contact details below.
Your conversation with St Mary's MHFAiders is completely confidential. They will only ever disclose that you have spoken to them if they have concerns for your safety, or the safety of someone else. The MHFAider will tell you if they believe they need to do this to keep you or others safe.
For monitoring purposes MHFAiders log basic information about contacts, limited to minimal information about the fact that a conversation took place, a department provided this would not risk identifying you, and referral actions they took.
During the Covid-19 Pandemic all our lives have been touched by mental ill health in some way or another. I feel that it is my role as a qualified Mental Health First Aider to provide employees at St Mary’s with a safe space to talk and to offer support to those of you that are struggling with your mental health. Please do get in touch if you would like to have a confidential chat.
I am truly honoured to have been accepted to become a Mental Health First Aider. I hope that I can offer colleagues support if they need to talk to someone about something that has been affecting them. Promoting the importance of good mental health is a passion of mine and I hope that the creation of these roles at the University can provide a platform to encourage our peers to talk about how they are feeling.
Claire Hierlehy-Brown, HR Business Partner
I have known people in both my personal and working life who have struggled with their mental health and recognise the impact this can have on their everyday life. I have been fortunate enough to train as a Mental Health First Aider here are St Mary’s and I’m committed to supporting and guiding others to find the help they might need. I appreciate how difficult it can be to take that first step in seeking help, but I’m a good listener and encourage you to reach out and have a conversation.
Wellness and mental health have been areas of great importance to me when working in schools before joining St Mary's. I have worked with colleagues to research and implement initiatives that support and promote the wellbeing of children and adults in education. I have brought this passion and understanding with me to St Mary's and hope to support my colleagues using this and the knowledge I have gained from the Mental Health First Aider training. Sometimes reaching out for help can be a difficult step, but it will be received without judgement and from a place of care.
Seeing beauty in vulnerability I strongly believe in using expertise through experience to inspire and empower others. I work in SAHPS, teaching on the BSc Psychology and MSc Psychology of Mental Health programmes. I am also a member of the Disability Staff Network. Alongside this, I have 10 years clinical experience working with adults with mild to severe mental health conditions as well as lived experience of mental health. I am overjoyed at becoming a Mental Health First Aider at St Mary’s University. My eyes, ears and heart are open to anyone who needs someone to talk to, so please do get in touch if you need support.
Leanne Griffiths, Dean of SAHPS
My name is Leanne, and I have conducted the two day Mental Health First Aid training course. I work in SAHPS and very much enjoy drinking tea. Through dealing with my own and close family mental health issues, I want to be able to support others and guide people to receive the right help if needed. I am very open to having a chat with anybody, so please do contact me.
Hi, my name is Lisa, I have completed the Mental Health First Aid training course and feel privileged to be part of the initiative here at St Mary’s. I believe it is really important that colleagues have someone that they can talk to if they are experiencing difficulties and having someone that can listen, be non-judgmental and empathic is crucial. Being able to speak out is a huge step and I would like to be able to offer that initial support. Through my own adversity, I have become more aware of the challenges that one can face in life. I am passionate about promoting good mental health and wellbeing and creating an environment that encourages people to be able to speak openly and positively about this as well. Please do contact me if you would like to have a chat.
I am so grateful to have received the Mental Health First Aid training as part of the University initiative, and I believe that every education setting in the UK should take the opportunity to offer the training to their staff. I believe Mental Health First Aid makes a stronger workforce and a society where everyone’s mental health matters. I would like to utilise my mental health first aid training to support colleagues on how to recognise and appropriately respond to mental health needs. When a Mental Health First Aider says “how can I be helpful,” that is a powerful question, it conveys recognition of pain or distress, and a level of sympathy rather than judgment. There is no stigma. It is an opening, a lifeline and helps them get connected to an intervention.
Mary Mihovilovic, Associate Professor - Institute of Education
I have been working at St Mary's for the last ten years having taught in secondary schools for a considerable time. Throughout my career I have been aware of colleagues, students and parents who experienced mental health issues but felt helpless and wanted to do more. I embarked on the MHFA training to become more informed and able to help people access support.
I have a long standing interest in promoting good mental health, having supported my wife for many years who has a long term mental health condition. Caring for a loved one going through mental health difficulties clearly presents its challenges and I’m keen to ensure colleagues who find themselves caring for others in this way, feel supported and are able to maintain their own mental health.
I am passionate about the notion of ‘one health’, where mental health conditions are viewed and communicated about in the same way as physical conditions. Like many others, I have had struggles with my mental health, brought on by life-changing events which were out of my control. This experience has increased my awareness of mental health and the impact it can have on someone’s everyday life, and the level of empathy I have for others.
Rebecca Hughes, Deputy Head of Student Services
When I have gone through tough times having supportive colleagues around me and a safe space to talk has made all the difference to my mental health. I applied to be a Mental Health First Aider so that I can provide this support to other staff members throughout the university and will always make time in my diary to sit down for a tea and chat. Sometimes it is easier speaking to someone who you don’t directly work with or who knows you personally and I would welcome an email from anyone at St Mary’s if they feel I could be of some support to them.
Having accumulated research and clinical experiences as Chartered Psychologist (BPS member) and Cognitive-Behavioural Therapist (CBT), I have now obtained a new exciting role as Mental Health First Aider together with my academic role as Senior Lecturer in Psychology. Compassionately committed to supporting people suffering from a broad spectrum of different types of mental health issues. Dedicated to serving people in a meaningful way, listening to their concerns, and assist them to find help, contacts and information for their mental, emotional, and behavioural problems.