In the demanding engineering environment where machinery never sleeps, Sam, a 19-year-old third-year Mechanical Fitter Apprentice, is making waves...not just for his technical skills but for his proactive approach to mental health in the workplace.
Sam's journey with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) began almost by chance. Early into his mechanical fitter apprenticeship, he caught wind of MHFA's growing popularity – first from Linda, his MIGAS Field Officer, and later from his TAFE instructors. During a routine catch-up, Linda highlighted MHFA as a valuable addition to an apprentice's skill set.
What made Sam enrol?
"The main driver was personal," he said.
For Sam, MHFA wasn't just another course but a step towards understanding the complexities of the human mind. He saw it as a way to better navigate the adult world, both professionally and personally.
Contrary to his expectations of a lecture-style setup, the training was an interactive round-table discussion. Despite being the youngest there, Sam found himself amidst a diverse group, each sharing their unique experiences.
This diversity, he realised, underscored the universal relevance of mental health.
"It opens your eyes to how much something like this can actually help and benefit people," Sam said.
A key component, the ALGEE® approach, offered a structured way to assist someone facing a mental health challenge. Sam hasn't had to use the entire framework yet, but its principles have influenced his daily interactions, reminding him and others of the importance of seeking help when needed.
The training's impact hasn't been confined to Sam's role at his host employer, Twin Disc. It's also shaped his interactions outside of work, particularly with friends.
"It's changed my mindset," Sam said, pointing out the broader understanding he now brings to his relationships.
Sam shared that he would absolutely recommend Mental Health First Aid training to fellow apprentices and trainees. He is convinced that the insights gained extend beyond one's trade.
His sentiments are echoed within Twin Disc, with his supervisor now considering the training.
Reflecting on his journey, Sam is filled with gratitude.
"I'm thankful for the course and training provided," he said. However, he is candid about the intensity of the course.
"It's not light content," Sam said, but for him, the insights gained far outweighed the challenges.
Now, a few months on, Sam appreciates the doors MHFA has opened for him. Bolstered by this experience, he's now eyeing a Certificate IV in Engineering.
"After doing the mental health first aid course, I feel confident that I could take my level III qualification to the next level," he said.
In an era where mental health is gaining the attention it deserves, Sam's proactive approach sets a precedent. His story shows the importance of mental wellbeing in the workforce, and a reminder that understanding and empathy are as crucial as any technical skill.
In Sam’s words, “the knowledge and skills acquired are not just helpful in a trade but life-enhancing”.
If you’re a trade-based business or apprentice looking to get trained in Mental Health First Aid, MIGAS's RTO, MiTraining, delivers courses around Australia and online.
Learn more about MiTraining’s Mental Health First Aid courses.