Mentoring by Jim Constable

My first 6 months of Phase mentoring coincided with a two day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course at work.

I know there are many reasons why young people have a mentor, and many benefits. And I know that a MHFA course is about First Aid, not counselling. And I know that not all young people have mental health challenges. And yet there were still some things from the course that are useful to have in mind when talking to young people.

The course introduced some useful steps:

  • Approach, Assess, Assist with any crisis. So if you think someone is in need of first aid – mentally. Don’t walk on by (just as you wouldn’t do if people needed physical first aid)
  • Listen and communicate non-judgementally (there are three parts to that. Listen, communicate and don’t judge – that might be hard)
  • Give information and support – so be supportive
  • Encourage professional help e.g. GP, or a mental health charity
  • Encourage other supports – so encourage people to consider seeking support from friends and family. That could mean telling friends and family for the first time that you have a mental health challenge

The three key messages for me, from the course, that are applicable to mentoring are:

  1. That people sometimes benefit from talking to someone else about their situation. This is common knowledge of course. But sometimes, sometimes, people need encouragement to talk. And a supportive, non-judgemental approach can help with that. One where you’re putting the person first, not trying to force a particular solution, but just start with caring.
  2. That you don’t need to be an expert or have all the answers to be able to help someone with a situation or challenge they’re facing. Talking, listening and helping them consider options can be extremely valuable to someone.
  3. That people’s – and their lives – can be wonderful, varied, unexpected, tough, inspirational and nothing like yours. Being open-minded in helping people to use all the resources that we human’s have to keep going, can be hard but extremely rewarding.

Jim Constable (PHASE Mentor)