Why do businesses need mental health first aid?
It is estimated that about 1 in 4 people experience poor mental health during their working life. Everything from stress to clinical depression impacts how employees perform at work with poor mental health costing the UK economy up to £70bn each year.
In 2019/2020 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health cases and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health, according to the HSE’s Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain report 2020.
Even with a designated mental health representative in a business, it can be hard for employees to feel comfortable discussing their problems – with 89% of people not telling their employees about mental health struggles and half still going to work while feeling suicidal. (Source)
What does a mental health first aider do?
A mental health first aider acts as the first point of contact for any employees who want to discuss their mental health. The mental health first aider can provide advice and support in a confidential, non-judgemental way before a professional mental health specialist is contacted (always with the person’s permission).
Not everyone wants to talk to a therapist if they’re feeling temporarily overwhelmed at work – a mental health first aider is an accessible low-commitment route for employees to get some guidance and prevent a build-up of emotions and stress that can lead to a larger mental health problem.
While some employees may have a colleague they feel comfortable confiding in, for more severe mental health concerns these untrained colleagues can struggle to provide advice and signpost appropriate support. Mental health first aiders are trained to know which organisations and services will be most suitable for each condition.
As well as being trained to talk to employees who reach out, mental health first aiders are also provided with the training to spot when someone in the business may be struggling with their mental health but not voicing it. This enables the first aider to make the first move and provide support to those employees who are struggling.
A mental health first aider can also help business leaders make their organisations more mental health-friendly e.g. identifying when working arrangements may need to change.
How a mental health first aider helps businesses
Employees who feel better will perform better. But alongside the improvements to business productivity, having a mental health first aider within your company can improve your brand image, improve staff retention, attract better talent and lead to better investment opportunities.
Businesses who actively look after their employee’s mental health could retain 78% of 18-24-year-olds who leave, 42% of their overall workforce and 25% of their critical staff. (Source)
Mental health awareness has significantly increased over the last few years meaning that the way a company handles employee mental health has a huge impact on the way a business is perceived from the outside. 88% of people take into account business’ mental health and wellbeing strategies when job hunting and 73% of investors analyse a company’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance.
Become a Mental Health First Aider
- An extensive understanding of mental health and things that can affect someone’s mental wellbeing
- Techniques and skills that enable you to identify the signs of various of mental health issues
- Confidence to reassure and support someone who is in distress
- Skills to help improve your own listening abilities – e.g. non-judgemental listening
- Knowledge to signpost individuals to support and resources, e.g. helplines, GP, written information
- The knowledge and understanding of how to keep yourself safe in your role as MHFA
- A certificate of completion and MHFA Qualified status