Barbara Simon, Principal Master Instructor, MHFA Trainer Profile;
Q: What inspired you to become a MHFA Instructor and how long have you been delivering the courses?
I trained as a volunteer for the phone crisis support with Lifeline when I came across the MHFA course for the first time. And I found the content so helpful that I decided I wanted to become an instructor as well to spread the word about how to help bringing mental illness out of its stigma. I have been training online and face to face for 2 years now and love it.
Q: Why do you think Mental Health First Aid training is so important for financial professionals?
I guess finances are always a bit of a tricky topic to talk about and in our current crisis many people would find themselves in difficult situations financially as well as emotionally. I think it is important for financial professionals to be able to not only give the fact and figures support but also the emotional support as their customers might have no one else to talk to.
Q: What makes you so passionate about your work as an MHFA Instructor for the Counting on U Program with Mentally Well Workplaces?
I think it is a fantastic program, the combination of relationship building and MHFA as financial professionals often deal with facts and figures and might lack a bit of emotional intelligence and empathy. Obviously prejudice but probably not too wrong. I am all for mentally well workplaces seeing that most people spend most of their waking hours at their work so it has to be a place where they feel safe and secure, knowing that they are supported and understood.
Q: What are 3 things you like to focus on and do exceptionally well when delivering Mental Health First Aid courses?
Listen to the questions of the participants and answer them to the best of my knowledge.
Be really firm around the suicide question as I find it is one of the most difficult topics in the MHFA training but such an important one to be confident around
Make the learning experience as interactive as possible as to not to bore the participants too much and lose their presence.
Q:What are your own self-care practices for staying mentally well?
I exercise regularly, meditate every morning before I start my day and most mornings enjoy a cup of tea afterwards in bed. I follow my hobby of jewellery making at least once a week and try new things. Walk on the beach, catching up with friends, reading, watching interesting movies and documentaries.
Q: Why would you recommend finance professionals, small business owners and employees in general become accredited Mental Health First Aiders?
Everyone should become a MHFAider in order to support not only their loved ones but also colleagues, clients and customers and even employees that are hierarchically above them. It is important to destigmatise Mental Illness and that only will happen when more and more people inform themselves and understand about Mental Illness and mental wellbeing.