Support in Mind Scotland's Highlands and Islands Connection Project joined together recently with local partners to promote and deliver a two-day Scottish Mental Health First Aid training session at Craignure on the Isle of Mull.

After discovering a lack of training to promote awareness of mental health within the community, the Highlands and Islands Connections project team and their partners across Mull agreed to provide a course available to anyone living on the island wishing to improve their confidence to support individuals in distress or suffering  mental ill health.

With its strong track record of improving knowledge and skills, the Scottish Mental Health First Aid course was chosen to help promote positive conversations about well-being on Mull.

The training was developed in collaboration with Mull Safe and Sound, whose knowledge of mental health on the island was crucial in delivering the course. All of the Highlands and Islands Connections project partners on Mull promoted and advertised the training in their communities, and the Mull and Iona Community Trust hosted the training at the An Roth Community Enterprise at Craignure.

Instructors Des MacMillan and Gary Macdonald delivered the training to a group of 19 individuals spanning all age groups. Participants with a range of backgrounds: health and social care workers; private business owners; the voluntary sector and the general public were represented.

The two-day training programme included sessions on holding positive conversations, recognising mental distress and guiding people towards further support.

Participants described the training as “excellent” and “very engaging”. The trainers said: "The Mull SMHFA training group were extremely engaging and had a real enthusiasm to learn.  The course delivery was further enhanced by the effective sharing of lived experience. We are very confident that the wellbeing of Mull residents will be enhanced and supported by this fantastic group of newly qualified Mental Health First Aiders and look forward to hearing how they progress ".

“I have never had such an open discussion about mental health. It was highly emotional but also rewarding

Overall feedback on the course from participants was extremely positive, with all attendees agreeing that the course had improved their skills and confidence in supporting somebody in distress. One participant said: “I have never had such an open discussion about mental health. It was highly emotional but also rewarding. The course exceeded expectations”. Another highlighted a stronger feeling of confidence in discussing mental health, stating “I feel better equipped to understand and help family and friends”. 

Following the training, Ros Halley, Highlands & Islands Connections Manager said: “With Mull Safe & Sound now initiating a discussion about creating a Mull Mental Health First Aid Team, the Highlands and Islands Project team hopes that this training and the other activities which have taken place over the last 12 months will benefit the island well into the future.”

  • Highlands and Islands Connections is a Support in Mind Scotland project with support from the Scottish Government’s Aspiring Communities Fund and the European Social Fund, and sponsorship in kind from Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries Ltd.