Why are mental health first aiders important in the workplace?

In the same way you would plan for the risk of physical harm in the workplace, having a colleague with mental health first aid training is a crucial tool for keeping your team’s wellbeing front and centre.

Employees who are in good mental health are more likely to work productively, form strong relationships with their co-workers, show up for work regularly, and be more engaged with the organisation.

Mental health issues are common in the workplace though often not spoken about. Anxiety and depression are the two most common conditions in the workplace, and still today many people are not well informed or knowledgeable about what these are, how they occur, and what can be done about them.

What is mental health first aid?

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised training programme that teaches people how to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health struggles and provide help on a first aid basis.

Incorporating MHFA training into any organisation or community also helps individuals to talk about mental health more openly, decreasing stigma and fostering a more positive workplace wellbeing culture.

What do mental health first aiders do?

A mental health first aider acts as the first point of contact for anyone who wants to discuss their mental health. This interaction could range from having an initial conversation through to supporting the person to get appropriate urgent help. As well as in a crisis, Mental Health First Aiders are valuable in providing early intervention help for someone who may be developing a mental health issue. The MHFA trained employee can provide active listening and guidance in a confidential, non-judgemental way and can signpost the person to useful resources available within the organisation and externally.

Mental Health First Aiders are not trained to be counsellors, therapists or psychiatrists, but they can offer initial support through non-judgemental listening and guidance.

Mental Health First Aiders are trained to:

  • Spot the early signs and symptoms of mental ill-health
  • Start a supportive conversation with a colleague who may be experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress
  • Listen to the person non-judgementally
  • Assess the risk of suicide or self-harm and escalate to the appropriate emergency services, if necessary
  • Encourage the person to access appropriate professional support or self-help strategies.
  • Maintain confidentiality at all times, only disclosing to the person’s line manager or HR with their consent

Why are mental health first aiders important in the workplace?

Having employees educated in mental health first aid ensures that there is always someone in the office who can identify the first signs of a colleague in distress as soon as they appear. This means that someone who is struggling for example with anxiety or stress can get help before problems develop further into things like burnout or depression.

In the workplace, there can be a stigma associated with mental health, which Mental Health First Aiders can assist to eliminate. Staff training in MHFA will demonstrate to anyone who is suffering that your organisation will assist and guide them. It will facilitate communication between your employees and management because they will know that they will be supported rather than belittled or discriminated against.

A healthy workplace starts with healthy employees. One of the most significant expenditures for businesses is lost productivity due to mental illness. Employees and supervisors benefit from having someone educated in MHFA because they will know what to look for and say, making them feel healthier and more supported when it comes to mental health, and most importantly will feel that management really cares.

Unfortunately, one of the most common causes for employees being placed on long-term sick leave is mental illness. Companies can save money and time by having workers who are trained to intervene and provide staff support when problems arise. This is preferable to failing to support colleagues and the problems become so serious that the employee is forced to take time off.

Do you want to book a Mental Health First Aid course?

Our Mental Health First Aid course costs £275 per person– discounts are available for group bookings of 12 people. Contact us for more information, available dates, or to make a booking, or to learn more about other mental health & wellbeing courses we offer .

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