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17 Jun

Community Conversations - Howstha doing Beth?

This week we caught up with Beth, our Health and Wellbeing Manager who recently completed the Awareness in Mental Health Problems course, offered by the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation in partnership with The Skills Network.

Tell us a bit about yourself…
Hello! My name is Beth Cook. I’m the Health and Wellbeing Manager at Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, where I have worked for almost 5 and half years now. Although I have never played cricket, I’ve played other sports from early childhood and have always recognised how sport can have a positive influence on people’s lives.

Howstha?
Thanks for asking! I’m good thank you – things are busier at work but it’s great to be back delivering on projects at the YCF.

Which course did you enrol on and why?
I enrolled on the Awareness of Mental Health Problems course offered as part of our Howstha? Campaign.
I did it for a few reasons really. I’ve always taken an active approach to learning and gaining a better understanding of mental health, both personally and professionally so there was that from a personal perspective. Secondly, as we were encouraging others to enrol on the courses, I felt it was important to lead by example and understand the course to be able to better advise others who may be contemplating signing up.
I think everyone has some responsibility when it comes to reducing the stigma associated with mental health, so if I increased my understanding by even 1% and actioned that in how I talk about mental health and how I respond to others I am helping.

What experience or knowledge did you gain from completing this course?
Going into the course I felt like I already had a good basis of knowledge to start from, but the variety of content on the course was more than I expected. Each module on the course provided a greater understanding of not only different mental health conditions, but the challenges faced by many who live with these conditions.
I found it interesting and useful to understand how some of these challenges may contribute to the stigma associated with mental health. This then helps to understand how that stigma can be removed.

Was there anything on this course that stood out in particular?
I think one thing that stuck with me is how negatively certain mental health conditions are portrayed in the media. This might be my own biases, but I feel like the media makes some mental health conditions perfectly acceptable, for example anxiety and depression, which is obviously a good thing. However, other conditions such as post-natal depression and schizophrenia seem to be misrepresented which I don’t think is useful for encouraging people to seek treatment or change other people’s views of these.
Since completing the course I think I notice the language used to describe some people’s behaviour much more and pick up on the negative connotations of this. For example, using words like mad, psycho and crazy don’t shine a positive light on mental health conditions.
I think people forget that people don’t chose to have poor mental health.

How will this help the wider community at YCF?
I think it’s important to have someone within a team, whether that’s at work, at home or at a sports club, who understands mental health. In the very same way that you would have a nominated first aider at work or a sports club. This doesn’t mean I am proclaiming to be a qualified mental health practitioner by the way! I just think it’s important to be equipped with the tools to recognise when someone may need additional support, and to be able to signpost them to the professionals who can offer that support.

How long did it take you to complete the course?
So, I completed the course in around 5 weeks. For some that may sound daunting as I know a lot of the promotional material we have put out says 8-12 weeks. Upon enrolment for the course, you are asked to complete a few questions which basically tests your understanding of the course topics. From there, the learning providers, The Skills Network then put together a framework of loose deadlines for each module. This is effectively to keep you on target. But, if you needed or wanted longer to do the course you could have that conversation and amend the deadlines. It’s really flexible!

Would you recommend this course to others? If so why?
Definitely. And not just because we offer it through our Health and Wellbeing offer! I honestly can’t stress enough how important I think it is for everyone to take a small portion of responsibility for increasing awareness of mental health.

Have you put any of your learnings into place? If so what?
I would like to think I have always been conscious of how I talk about mental health and how I respond to others (you never know what others are going through!), but I think it has just reinforced this further for me.
My priority moving forward will be to ensure the language I use is supportive of shedding a positive light on mental health. For example, people don’t “struggle” with mental health conditions, they “battle”.

Any further comments?
If anyone is thinking about enrolling on one of the courses and has any questions feel free to contact me! – beth.cook@yorkshirecricketfoundation.com

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