Mental health sessions praised for reaching rural communities in B&NES

Chew Valley’s Village Agents – a group of people linking people in rural areas of Bath and North East Somerset with advice and support services for independent living – have praised a mental health training session run by Virgin Care.

The organisation’s Mental Health Service, one of a number of services as part of Bath and North East Somerset’s Community Health and Care Service which it runs on behalf of the local council and NHS, supported Village Agents and its community volunteers with a Connect5 training session that has helped them recognise the different elements of mental health.

The session, run by the services’ Head of Mental Health Paul Wilson this week (12 April), gave them the knowledge and background to the social, psychological, emotional, behavioural and physical aspects of mental health and it taught them the qualities and skills required to help a person in distress.

Denise Perrin, Village Agent Project Manager, who organised and attended the training and described its impact: “The Connect 5 training was excellent. For small organisations like the Village Agents, Community @ 67 and the Keynsham and Chew Valley Befrienders training of this nature is difficult to access but Virgin Care, and especially Paul were very helpful in setting up the training.

“Connect 5 has given us a unique opportunity to gain skills and experience that is much needed as we work in our communities. Village Agents work in rural communities where we find an increasing number of people who have hidden their mental health challenges, or they are unaware that what they are experiencing is an accumulation of issues that are now affecting their daily life

“Supporting people to address those issues will allow them to get to the root cause and through that gentle process, the best solutions for that individual.”

 Paul Wilson, Head of Mental Health Services for Bath and North East Somerset’s Community Health and Care Services for Virgin Care, added: “Virgin Care is supporting the Year of Mental Health in Bath and North East Somerset this year, so it is important that during this time we do all we can to improve understanding, skills and sign-posting knowledge – Connect 5 training is part of that process.

“The session in Chew was very successful and I was extremely impressed by how involved participants got in the case studies and role play that are a key part of the training. They now have t both the key communication skills and personal qualities to be of help to a person in distress.”

Virgin Care’s Mental Health Service will be working in Chew Valley again on May 30, when the local team led by Paul will be supporting an event on self-care organised by the Village Agents.

For more information on mental health services available in Bath and North East Somerset visit:

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