Lauren McKechnie, Deputy CEO of Bolton CVS (Community and Voluntary Services) describes her experience as a MECC for Mental Health Lead Trainer.

Bolton CVS works alongside Bolton's Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector; supporting them to do what they exist to do, as well as they possibly can.

What made you decide to get involved?

I came across the opportunity to become a MECC for Mental Health Lead Trainer via the public health representation on Boltons Mental Wellbeing and Suicide Prevention Steering Group of which I am Vice-Chair.

I decided to get involved because the training sounded like something that would complement the existing mental health related training available in Bolton and could be easily adapted/delivered to the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector, which the Bolton CVS organisation exists to support. It is also an area of personal and professional interest to me.

In your view what is the strategic case for MECC for Mental Health?

In line with Bolton’s 2030 Vision, Bolton is striving to be the best place to start, live and age well. Having a robust, prevention and early intervention approach across the borough, to mental health and wellbeing is imperative to this. The MECC model of delivery is also something which is accessible and supports conversation, awareness and training from a non-clinical perspective which is vitally important.

How did you train to become a MECC for Mental Health trainer?

The training was online with a cohort of approximately 10 others and over the course of 2 days. The training delivers were kind, knowledgeable, compassionate and skilled.

Personally, I feel it would have been beneficial to have had at least day 1 of training in person as opposed to 2 full days online but I appreciate the flexibility this brings. I found some of the materials, particularly in relation to the 2 A’s, very repetitive and thus ‘tweaked’ when I then co-delivered to my cohort of trainers.

How was the experience of organising and delivering MECC for Mental Health training?

Perfectly fine.  I co-delivered with incredible Olga Baba who is also based in Bolton and I feel we worked really positively together.  We allocated time to prep and debrief before and after each training day, supported each other throughout and feel confident we complemented each other’s trainer style.  The communication and support provided by the RSPH team was excellent – we were clear on who our participants were and what was required from us and them.

Can you provide a brief description of the group/s you delivered the training to and briefly describe the training programme you delivered?

Approximately 10 people, online over two days and a combination of the learning and development team from Bolton Council, Public Health Specialists, NHS Foundation Trust and Beacon Counselling (Liverpool).

The training programme was delivered over 2 days from 10am – 4pm with no specific context.

How do you think the training has been received by participants?

I believe well, the feedback during and at the end of both sessions were positive as well as having received direct emails of thanks from a number of individual participants.  People found it well paced, engaging, informative, personable and enjoyable.  There was feedback around the MECC app and general content in lines of gambling harms should be more overtly mentioned and referred to.

What difference do you think MECC for Mental Health will bring to the people you trained?

I think the training gives people the opportunity to take pause and reflect on their own mental wellbeing and that of their family and friends – not just in a professional sense or setting – which is really important.  The concept of a very brief intervention is also valuable and helps to address hesitancy and dispel myths around bringing up the conversation of mental wellbeing and mental illness.