Meet our talented Principal Master Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Tina Winchester

tina winchester counting on u trainer coordinator

Tina Winchester, Principal Master Instructor, MHFA Trainer Profile;

Q: What inspired you to become a MHFA Instructor and how long have you been delivering the courses? 

Mental Health First Aid has such a great reputation across the world that becoming an Instructor was inevitable for me.  Having worked in mental health services for 20 years in the UK, then as a trainer/assessor for the Diploma of Counselling here in Australia, I saw throughout my career the need for good and credible training in understanding mental health and mental illness, and Mental Health First Aid provides that.  I have been training MHFA since 2016 and have delivered the course to members of the public and organisations both large and small.

Q: Why do you think Mental Health First Aid training is so important for financial professionals?

Financial distress contributes significantly to our mental health and financial professionals are working with clients every day who may be struggling.  Early intervention is critical to supporting people and possibly preventing a worse outcome, but to do this effectively we need knowledge of signs to look for, how to approach a conversation and where people can access professional help.

Q: What makes you so passionate about your work as an MHFA Instructor for the Counting on U Program with Mentally Well Workplaces?

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to co-author, facilitate and deliver the Counting on U Program.  At Mentally Well Workplaces our focus is on reaching as many people as possible in Australian workplaces to ensure employers and employees have an opportunity to learn about mental health and how to support each other.  My passion comes from many years working in mental health services and seeing how essential it is that stigma is eliminated and replaced with empathy and understanding.  Mental ill health is not a life sentence, but it is a hard road for some, with this type of training we can contribute to ensuring that people who are struggling are met with kindness, hope, strategies for accessing professional help and are not met with judgement.

Q: What are 3 things you like to focus on and do exceptionally well when delivering Mental Health First Aid courses?

  1. Creating a relaxed environment where participants feel comfortable.
  2. Using my experience of working with people with mental illness to make the content real, personable and relatable.
  3. Lightening the mood to put people at ease, in a respectful way.

Q:What are your own self-care practices for staying mentally well?   

Self-care is essential for all of us, my top tips are:-

Prioritise sleep. Changes to sleep are often the first sign that we are under pressure. I aim to get between 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night – very few people can function well with less than 7 hours.

Ditch the hustle mentality. Working long hours, without breaks will have a negative impact on your mental health. We simply cannot be productive if we don’t take breaks and switch off. The 24/7 grind is not something to be celebrated!

Check your thinking. Most people believe every thought they have and respond to every emotion they feel.

Q: Why would you recommend finance professionals, small business owners and employees in general become accredited Mental Health First Aiders? 

Skills learned in Mental Health First Aid can be life changing and life saving.  MHFA teaches participants how to assist people who are developing a mental health problem, experiencing the worsening of an existing mental illness or in a mental health crisis.  Assistance is provided until appropriate professional health is received or the crisis resolves.   Often people misunderstand the signs or symptoms of a decline in mental health or worry about how to approach a person, undertaking Mental Health First Aid provides an evidence based effective program.  MHFA for Financial Services Professionals has been written specifically to teach people how to assist a co-worker, client or any person in financial distress who may need mental health support.

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