Our Training Coordinator, Sophie, Reflects on her first six months with Harmless

I have now been working at Harmless for 6 months. I’m not quite sure where the time has gone, but I am loving every minute of it and would not change it for the world.

My role has been extremely varied, intense, exciting, emotive, nerve wracking etc.

Within this time I have been so fortunate to experience going to lots of conferences, and meeting so many influential, inspirational and friendly individuals from around the country. I have delivered training on self harm, mental health and suicide awareness. I’ve travelled to new places around the country, with travelling being something I love, so this is an added bonus for me.

I really enjoy attending conferences and delivering training in a range of localities as it provides a fantastic opportunity to network, meet people from a range of organisations around the country and share best practice. Being able to share information about Harmless and the work we do makes me extremely proud to be a part of it.

As part of my role, I have also been managing the training bookings and I can honestly say, every time a booking is secured, the feeling of achievement and positivity I get, never wears off. The reason for this is that I know the money raised from these confirmed bookings is going towards helping individuals in distress and is saving lives. It also means we are raising awareness on a range of subject matters, reducing stigma and discrimination and equipping professionals and communities to respond effectively to self harm, mental health and suicide.

One of the biggest impacts for me is having strangers open up and share how they are feeling, once they know the work I do. I have had friends approach me saying they have had thoughts of suicide or a family member has a mental health condition or they self harm and that they find it really tough. I have had taxi drivers in London engage in deep conversation about suicide and share with me that they’re finding things really difficult at present and they’re not sure how they will cope going forward. Knowing I can make a difference by taking the time to engage with these individuals really gives me hope, that as a society, we are becoming more aware of self harm, mental health and suicide and we have the confidence, to talk openly, with strangers. Also, if during the few minutes I was able to listen and connect with these individuals, give them that time to verbalise their feelings, recognise they were struggling and actually just share with someone and gain information on who they can get support from, this was time well spent.

I was also involved in our annual event preparation, which meant getting prize donations, selling raffle tickets, selling tickets and general preparation on this. The event was a big success and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. It was an emotive, funny, entertaining social occasion, where again, there was the opportunity to meet lots of people.

Overall, my first 6 months at Harmless have been exceptionally positive and rewarding. There have been ups and downs during this time, as you would expect in this profession.  We are committed to changing lives and providing hope to those in distress as well as their families, friends carers etc. Because we are so passionate about the work we do, when we do experience these ‘down’ moments, it has a huge impact on us emotionally. As a member of the Harmless team, I found I have been well supported through these upsetting times and we work together to pick each other up and move forward to continue to fight even harder to make a difference.

Send a Card, Save a Life

Harmless’ Christmas Cards are now on sale!

Help support vital self harm and suicide prevention services by sending a festive card this holiday season!

Premium quality cards come in packs of 8 with 2 designs and self seal envelopes


 All the money raised will go directly towards supporting the ongoing work of Harmless and The Tomorrow Project and saving lives.

Buy yours in our online store: www.harmless.org.uk/store/Christmas-cards 

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training – Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th November 2015

MHFA – Mental Health First Aid Training

Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th November 2015

£200* per place

Places are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

MHFA is an educational course which teaches people how to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing a mental health issue. In the same way as we learn physical first aid, Mental Health First Aid teaches you how to recognise those crucial warning signs of mental ill health. By completing this course it will develop your skills, abilities and confidence in being able to support individuals with a range of mental health conditions.

The 2 day workshop will be delivered by a fully trained, certified MHFA Trainer.


Where can I find more information or book on the course?

To book on this course via our online shop, please click here.

For more information about our MHFA training or to book please contact Harmless and ask for Sophie Allen (Training coordinator, ASIST & MHFA trainer).

Email: training@harmless.org.uk or
Telephone: 0115 9348445
Date(s): 25th and 26th November 2015
Times: 9am until 5pm (both days)
Training Location: Harmless, NCVS, 7 Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FB

Please note: Attendance on both days of the workshop is mandatory

Refreshments, lunch and all resources will be provided on both days of the workshop.

Certificate for  each delegate upon completion


The course is split into 4 manageable chunks. These are;

  • What is mental health
  • Suicide
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Psychosis

In each section you will learn how to;

  • Spot the early signs of a mental health problem
  • Feel confident helping someone experiencing a mental health problem
  • Provide help on a first aid basis
  • Help prevent someone hurting themselves or others
  • Help stop a mental illness from getting worse
  • Help someone recover faster
  • Guide someone towards the right support
  • Reduce the stigma of mental health problems


How will I learn?

The MHFA course usually takes place over 2 full days. However the delivery of this course is very flexible and may be delivered over a number of sessions.

The sessions will be a mix of presentations, group discussions and group work activities. Your instructors will provide a very safe learning environment and are trained to support you throughout the whole course. If you don’t feel comfortable joining in certain bits, then don’t, we won’t make you do something you aren’t comfortable with.

Due to some of the sensitive subjects of our courses, including suicide, we limit numbers to 16 people. We want everyone to feel safe and our instructors can help if people find some bits particularly difficult.

You’ll receive and MHFA Standard manual that you can take away with you at the end of the course and also an attendance certificate from MHFA England to say you are now a Mental Health First Aider.

What are the main benefits of MHFA for me?

MHFA will give you the skills to be able to support individuals with mental conditions in crisis. While you will be unable to diagnose mental health conditions, MHFA teaches you how to recognise symptoms of mental ill health, how to support someone in crisis using an effective model and the support networks available to someone with mental ill health. You will also learn that recovery is likely and indeed possible.

Why is MHFA beneficial to my organisation?

1 in 4 adults will experience a mental health problem each year. It is therefore very likely that someone you know, whether it be a friend, family member, colleague, client or an employee is likely to experience a mental condition, such as depression or anxiety disorders. Sometimes we don’t spot the signs immediately, however the sooner the person can receive professional support, the less likely they are to develop more serious long term problems.

Attending the training will help you in dealing with difficult situations as you will have more understanding and empathy about mental health conditions. Through the training we hope to reduce stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health by raising awareness of a range of conditions. Training staff as Mental Health First Aiders in your organisation indicates that you take your staff and clients wellbeing extremely seriously. This can result in

  • Less staff absences
  • Improve productivity, recruitment and staff retention levels
  • Improve outcomes for those returning to work


Who can attend?

The course is simply for anyone. All that we ask is for you to be above the age of 16. This is due to some of the content being quite sensitive and can be upsetting to some. We want to ensure that we create a safe and suitable learning environment for all out attendees.

*Book three delegates or more and received a discounted rate of £160 per delegate.

In the News: Teens turning to counselling to cope with social media

Leading independent schools are increasing the numbers of psychologists to help teenagers cope with the pressures of appearing popular on social media

Children at leading independent schools are being forced into the hands of professional counsellors to help them cope with the pressures of appearing popular on social media, a leading headmaster has warned.

There has been a rapid expansion in the numbers of counsellors employed by schools to meet the mental health needs of teenagers struggling to deal with the “modern world”, said Chris King, the new chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) of schools.

The pressure to accumulate friends and positive comments on social media – alongside the need to perform well in exams – is leading to significant issues for some young people, Mr King said.

Almost half of 260 schools in the HMC have recruited more counsellors over the past five years, he added.

To read the full article, please click on the following link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/11899316/Teens-turning-to-counselling-to-cope-with-social-media.html

Harmless and the Tomorrow Project attend the National Positive Practice Awards

Last night members of our team attended the Positive Practice Awards for Mental Health in Newcastle.

Held at the Hilton Hotel, our team were delighted to attend in honour of our beloved Tomorrow Project being shortlisted for the crisis care award for our work with those at risk of suicide.

The Positive Practice Awards are one of seldom few drives to promote effective work in the field of mental health and acknowledge and credit the vital work in this area of healthcare. All too often criticise our provision and the people working within those services, yet take little time to celebrate the compassion and drive for change that ultimately improved the lives of our service users.

Last year, Harmless walked away as a category award winner for our work with children and young people. Up against some phenomenally inspiring projects this year, we did not walk away with category winner for crisis support, however the judges felt that we were eligible for a highly commended award in our category.

The Tomorrow Project is a vital service, mobilising community support to people who are contemplating suicide or might be at risk of suicide. We take our help to them. We work with communities to change and save lives.

The project no longer has any funding, but despite this, we are determined to continue to help people facing crisis in the most helpful manner possible and we hope that this recognition award will support us in achieving this aim.

Every Colleague Matters Launch

Harmless recently attended Nottingham’s Every Colleague Matters launch, where we were invited to speak about the workshops we will be delivering as part of our commissioning from Nottingham City Council and Nottingham CCG.

We had half an hour slot to share information about these workshops and also to deliver an interactive, 20 minute ‘taster’ session.

I presented information about what we will be delivering, why we are delivering these and also who these workshops are aimed at. We received such a positive response upon sharing this information and the interactive session, delivered by our trainer, Sarah, that I thought it would be valuable to share this information more widely.

We will be delivering Community Workshops, Frontline Workers training, Workplace Training for Managers and also MHFALite

By providing training to specific groups of people, we can directly influence the lives of people with mental health problems and equip Communities, Frontline Workers and Managers with the confidence and skills to respond to mental health problems.

In terms of the Community Workshops, the purpose of these will focus on how to promote resilience and wellbeing in the community through building of awareness and resilience amongst citizens and carers. These workshops will be aimed at volunteers, community care workers, neighbourhood workers etc. These will be a 2 hour workshop, with a drop in after each one, staffed by a Harmless Therapist

The Mental Health Awareness for Frontline Workers workshop will focus on improving skills and confidence to recognise people with mental health problems and offer appropriate support. This will acknowledge that Frontline Workers will also have needs around their own mental health and encourage self-care and emotional resilience. These workshops will be aimed at frontline workers such as reception staff, security officers, police, ambulance crew, job centre staff etc. These workshops will be half a day

The Workplace training for Managers will examine how practical support can be provided to create an environment that is healthy for staff and promote interventions to raise awareness. This training will be aimed at CEO’s and Senior Management in a range of organisations within Nottingham City and will take place over half a day

Finally, we will be delivering MHFALite. MHFALite is an introductory mental health awareness course and will be delivered by a fully qualified MHFA trainer. The course introduces ALGEE – a unique memory tool that can be used to provide mental health first aid. Delegates that attend will receive an MHFALite manual and also an attendance certificate from MHFA England.

All of these workshops have a big focus on reducing stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health and also raises hope that recovery is likely and possible.

For more information on any of these courses and upcoming dates, please email;




Our trainer, Sarah, talks about Mental Health and Stereotypes

In line with Nottingham’s Mental Health Awareness Weeks I thought I would spend some time discussing stereotypes. As well as being a Specialist Trainer for Harmless, a Personal Assistant for a young adult with Autism and having an MSc in Psychological-Well-being, I was also diagnosed in my late teens with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

The funny thing is if you had asked me when I was younger if I had a mental health condition I would have laughed in your face and said, “Doesn’t everyone suffer with anxiety?” When you hear the word anxiety disorder you can’t help but picture somebody separate to ‘average’ society…different to your average human being.

This is me here…………………………….and Average Society all the way over here.

It is expected that someone with anxiety should be weak looking, trembling, fidgety and even perhaps a little unkempt. The fact was I looked like none of those things. In fact the most common remark made to me when I did let someone know I suffered with anxiety was, “But you don’t you look anxious!?”

Like an iceberg the majority of mental health conditions are hidden beneath water. Stereotypes are found in all aspects of life and you don’t have to be a horrible, closed-minded person to believe in them.  The truth is everyone is affected by stereotypes, including myself. Otherwise how else do they form?

What separates us from being close-minded and ignorant is that we chose to be aware of our stereotypes and remind ourselves that these images can be misleading. For example, if I asked you to think of a Teacher I bet I could ‘telepathically’ guess that you will have chosen a female in glasses even perhaps with her hair in a bun? The key to breaking stereotypes is being aware. This is the stereotype but I chose not to let this image limit my view of the world. So my advice to you this week is to think about the stereotypes you hold and what you can do to break them?

In the News: Depression and Self Harm Soar Among Private School Pupils

Survey of head teachers finds problems including eating disorders are now at unprecedented levels, with social media and exam stress blamed

Teenage pupils at British private schools are experiencing unprecedented levels of depression, eating disorders and self-harm, according to headteachers, who say longstanding stresses have been amplified by increased pressure over exams and the ever-present anxieties of social media.

The warning comes from the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference(HMC), representing 175 leading private schools, which surveyed 65 headteachers on the subject.

The responses found that in some ways, schools appear to have become kinder places, with fewer cases of intolerance such as homophobic bullying, as well as less drug and alcohol misuse. However, they found greatly increased cyberbullying and online threats, and what the HMC called unprecedented levels of self-harm, depression and eating disorders among pupils.

Bernard Trafford, the headmaster of the Royal Grammar school in Newcastle upon Tyne and a former chair of HMC, told the Guardian that exam pressures played some role, with pupils facing higher grade requirements to get into top universities.

But a greater factor, he said, appeared to be the way social media made common teenage anxieties harder to escape, also exaggerating worries over such things as body image.

“It is the pressure to excel, and also to be beautiful, all that stuff. And friendship issues seem to be more difficult than ever. In the old days, you got home from school, or in the boarding sector got back to your boarding house, and you got away from it to some extent.


To read the full article, please visit:


World mental health day

Today is World Mental Health Day. We at Harmless and The Tomorrow Project would like to appeal to each of you, to think about one change that you could make that could change the way we respond to mental health problems.

1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems; many of us will self harm, use alcohol, smoke, over/undereat to manage our feelings and a high proportion of us will think about suicide at some point in our lives.

9/10 of us who experience mental health problems will also face stigma. Stigma isolates people that need support- it discriminates against those who deserve compassion. 

Each of us can choose to challenge stigma when it arises. 

So today, what will you do differently to change things for the better?

It could be that you call/text/IM someone that you know is struggling, just to let them know that you care.

You could read an article about mental health to try and improve your own understanding. 

Or you could challenge stigma, wherever you might come across it.

Whatever it is, small ripples of change can create a big wave and for those experiencing mental health difficulties, it could be life changing or indeed, life saving.

Harmless Deliver First Community Mental Health Workshops

Harmless recently won a bid to deliver Mental Health Awareness workshops to individuals in the community, frontline workers and managers that live or work in Nottingham City. These workshops are commissioned by Nottingham City Council and Nottingham CCG and are set alongside the five strategic priorities from the Nottingham City Adult Mental Health Strategy

Our first delivery of these workshops was completed on Tuesday when I delivered a Community Workshop to a number of delegates wanting to improve their knowledge, skills and confidence in order to respond effectively to individuals with mental health conditions and also, importantly, to work towards reducing stigma and discrimination.

I feel the workshop was a really positive start to the training we will be delivering over the upcoming months. The delegates fully engaged with the delivery and it was an extremely interactive session with lots of discussions, sharing of knowledge and lived or personal experience.

I always feel privileged when delegates share their own experiences as it demonstrates a safe learning environment has been created which is vital when talking about subjects that can be extremely emotive.

As we always find with 2 hour workshops, the delegates always want longer. This delivery was no exception. This really proves to me that delegates became engaged with delivery and were finding it valuable, beneficial and informative. The feedback that was received both verbally and written was extremely positive and showed a clear development in terms of gained understanding for participants. We measure progress in terms of knowledge before delivery and knowledge once the workshop has finished in order to ensure the content, workshop and delivery has been effective and advantageous for the each individual. It is also used to assess we are meeting the commissioners requirements and I feel pleased that there was an evident increase in knowledge once the workshop had completed.

We have many more upcoming dates for workshops. For more details email Sophie@harmless.org.uk