Olive Group, the Irish-founded EdTech company, today announces the official launch of a new online training course, Being There, to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to support colleagues, friends and family who may be experiencing emotional distress. The course content has been adapted from the popular workshop series of Dr Derek Smyth, the esteemed international psychologist and co-author of anger management programme, Defusing the Bomb.
A separate version of the Being There course geared towards professionals is in the process of being approved as a Continuous Professional Development aid for the healthcare and legal sectors.
Recent research carried out by Mental Health Reform and the COVID-19 Psychological Research Consortium* has found that one-third of the population in Ireland has experienced mental health difficulties as a result of the pandemic. A further 75% of the population are concerned that social distancing measures and restrictions will have a long-term impact on the mental health and welfare of society more broadly.
The research also found that 80% of the population believe that mental health charities and voluntary mental health services should receive extra supports and funding to deal with the heightened strain on these services in recent months. Being There is designed to empower individuals nationwide to play their part in the mental health recovery of society.
The course has been divided into nine modules, with core strands including active listening, self-awareness and crisis intervention. Being There has already been successfully trialed by a sports club, trade union and a nursing organisation, as well as individual participants.
Course creator, Dr Derek Smyth has a rich history delivering a range of highly coveted in-person workshops on human growth and development to organisations, institutions and individuals across Europe and the US for the last 30 years. Commenting on the launch of Being There, he said: “During these unprecedented times, it is vital that people are prioritising not just their own mental health, but that of their friends, colleagues and loved ones. Many of us have been experiencing feelings of confusion and apprehension due to the ongoing pandemic, and that is totally normal. The importance of knowing how to express our feelings, and to support those who may be having a difficult time has never been more pronounced. However, the reality is that the majority of us are not trained in these critical listening and development skills.
“Olive Group’s ‘Being There’ platform teaches essential counselling skills for everyday life and empowers individuals to become agents of support for each other. I’m proud that my work has been adapted into this new interactive learning medium, extending the benefits to a global audience online.”
Speaking at the launch of Being There, the Minister for Higher Education and Innovation Simon Harris, said: “Technological progress has touched all our lives and reshaped the way we socialise, communicate and interact with society. The ‘Global Village’ has brought huge benefits to our world. However, these changes have also come at a cost.
“We must recognise that for many in our society, there is a profound sense of loneliness, isolation and anxiety that they must live with each day. In recent months, the changes to our lives as a result of COVID-19 have created additional challenges and brought mental health and wellbeing into very sharp focus.
“Whether it be at home, in a work or community environment, or as a professional, ‘Being There’ will provide both professionals and non-professionals alike with the skills and techniques they will need to be present in a supportive capacity.”
Brendan Kavanagh, CEO, Olive Group, said, “The pandemic has had a profound impact on people’s mental health, and it has also resulted in a discontinuation of crucial in-person mental health services. Being There has been carefully crafted to provide all the benefits of face-to-face support so that anyone can learn to be a source of strength for those who need it.
“People who have previously completed Dr Smyth’s programme have noted major improvements in the way they navigate their personal and professional lives. The course content also gives them the tools to help others in their time of need, expanding their interpersonal skills and strengthening personal relationships.”
Information is available at https://olivegroup.io/being-there/.