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Housing trust invests in mental health awareness training

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Housing trust invests in mental health awareness training


Published by HearFirst for HearFirst in Housing and also in Communities, Education

Julie Ryder of HearFirst Julie Ryder of HearFirst

A South Manchester based housing provider has invested in a series of training sessions for frontline members of staff to raise awareness and their understanding of mental health including the impact of various mental illnesses.

Over 50 members of staff from the income management, neighbourhood services, call centre and other customer facing staff at Southway Housing Trust attended the full day training courses, which were delivered in-house by award winning workplace training and consultancy company HearFirst.

The ‘Understanding Mental Health’ course is aimed at front line members of staff who deal with tenants in crisis and those who may become suicidal. It also helps them understand how to respond and support people and encourage staff to become aware of their own wellbeing.

During the training, delegates learn about common mental health conditions including signs and symptoms (depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis), managing stress, supporting tenants in distress, those who may have suicidal thoughts and how to signpost tenants most in need.

Julie Ryder, Director and Founder of HearFirst, said: “The training has resulted in front line staff having an increased awareness and understanding of issues around mental health. It is important for staff in front line roles to have training, which reinforces good practice and enables them to feel fairer, more confident and professional in their role.  Having mental health awareness training helps organisations meet their legal obligation under the Equality Act as well as making good business sense.”

The trust, which owns and manages almost 6,000 homes across Burnage, Chorlton, Didsbury and Withington, made it mandatory for front line staff to attend.  Income manager, Helen Sharples fully supported the training and said: “With many changes to the benefits system, housing tenants in particular, are under increased pressure with paying their rent, managing their money and avoiding getting into debt. 

“These pressures can lead to tenants displaying symptoms of stress, anxiety and mental ill-health and in some cases those becoming suicidal.  The Understanding Mental Health training delivered by HearFirst, has helped our staff to spot and identify how they can help tenants but more importantly, signpost those to get help with their circumstances.”

Staff reported that they found the training very useful and felt that it would give them the confidence and knowledge to be able to help tenants.  Comments from members of staff, included: “All staff should attend mental health awareness training.”  “This course has shown me I need to listen to tenants more.”  “The activities were useful and made me think.”  “I wasn't expecting to learn as much as I did – interesting and informative."

Julie continued: “Housing organisations need to support tenants, particularly those that are vulnerable and the mental health awareness course will prepare staff and managers to do this.”

HearFirst provides a full range of equality & diversity training courses to organisations across the UK. For more information on Deaf, disability awareness and BSL training, please contact Julie at HearFirst on 01706 872 816 or visit


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