Mind over matter

Carly Brookfield discusses the importance of talking about mental health.

Many of us would agree that our mental health and wellbeing has been challenged in the last year with lockdowns, industry shutdowns and our businesses being under threat. For both driver and rider trainers, and pupils, mental health is a topic not often discussed but relevant to all at one point or another – whether that be concerns over a pupil displaying signs of a mental health issue, or a trainer themselves struggling.

Mental health is an issue which can impact all of us. One in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in the UK, and one in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week
(source: Mind). 

I have experience of mental health issues myself with an immediate family member struggling with manic depression as I was growing up. As a family we’ve been on the rollercoaster of ups and downs, including suicide attempts and frantic periods where our family member simply went missing so I certainly know what it’s like living with mental illness. However, I’m proud to say that today this family member is well and now works as a support worker for young people with mental health issues – proving mental illness does not have to be a rabbit hole you disappear down never to return. With the right guidance, support and treatment many mental health issues can be effectively managed. 

In this issue we focus on Mental Health because, well it’s healthy to. Talking about mental health issues should not be taboo and thankfully it is becoming less so. Wider and more accessible education on the subject is increasingly available, and in May we’ve also had a specific Mental Health Awareness Week to stimulate discussion around this important issue and highlight the increasing amount of education, guidance and support resources available.

DIA has also produced some helpful resources for trainers, including a short online presentation designed to help instructors spot the signs of a pupil who may be struggling and offering advice on how to help, including signposting them towards more professional support. We hope you take the time to watch it and that it helps your understanding should you encounter pupils who may be facing mental health challenges, or that it helps you as a trainer if you are having issues closer to home.

We’re also busy developing a new Fitness to Drive course which will have much more of a focus on the impact of mental illness on driving, guiding trainers on how to manage such issues in training, as well as an in-depth look at assessing Fitness to Drive overall.

There are also other courses in DIA Academy trainers may find useful with a focus on managing the mind. Our new mindfulness course for example provides scientifically proven information and practices to help you understand what practising mindfulness really means, as well as tools to help you feel more resilient and resourced, not only as an ADI but also in life generally. 

Unsure about taking on a full course in the subject to begin with? We also have a free webinar on the subject in the DIA Academy so you can find out what mindfulness is all about. 

You’ll also find useful courses in drivers with diverse needs and neurodiversity which will better help your understanding of how different pupils approach learning to drive and how to best deliver learning to meet their individual needs.

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