Deborah Beards is the latest emergency service worker in Greater Manchester to complete a course through the Seetec Outsource Blue Light Academy training programme. Deborah works for North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and has been a paramedic since 2012. Deborah was made aware of the Blue Light Academy courses through an email from a senior manager and decided that the ‘Adult Mental Health’ course was the best one for her, as she explained:

“I had already been aware of the Manchester Stress Institute, who provide the teaching for the course, as they had released some podcasts during lockdown with tips on relaxation and I had tapped into those and found them really useful. So, when I saw that the mental health course was available, I thought it would be an interesting course to enrol on, as such a big part of our job as paramedics these days is mental health orientated. “

Deborah went on to explain how the learning was delivered: “It was all online and delivered over four modules, with a one-to-one session in the second week. Otherwise, it was a series of slides and videos that I thought were excellent. One of the challenging aspects of working as a paramedic is we don’t get a lot of free time, and we are all trying to juggle work and home life as well, but I really liked the way the teaching was done. It was accessible; you could book your slot for the one-to-one and there wasn’t any pressure on when you had to complete the coursework.”

One of the interesting elements of the course was that it provided Deborah with tips to not only deal with the mental health needs of her patients and colleagues, but also gave her an understanding of her own wellbeing and how she can make sure she’s in the best place possible. She outlined what she had learned: “For me, it was very closely linked to what I could take out on to the road with me, but then equally about how I deal with my own mental health at the same time.”

“The course content taught me that there is a continuum of mental health, with healthy being on one side and how that can then decline into crisis; what really interested me was that there can be a trigger that can take you straight from healthy to crisis in one go. This has made me very mindful of the fact that things can decline very quickly and to make sure you are looking out for the signs.”

“Another of the things I wanted to gain from the course was to increase my own resilience. It can be quite difficult with my job, alongside whatever family or home stuff you have going on, to find a way of dealing with stress without allowing it to get on top of you. The course taught me that stress is inevitable, but that it’s about applying perspective. It has encouraged me to take a step back and not be guided too much by my feelings, but instead try and be more objective and let go of what you don’t need to hold on to.”

To find out more, or register for one of the Blue Light Academy courses today, click the link here.

Skills for Growth is funded through the European Social Fund and aims to plug the skills gaps in priority sectors across Greater Manchester as outlined in the Combined Authority’s Local Industrial Strategy.