Why should your workplace run a Mental Health First Aid training course?

It can only be a good thing that, these days, companies are talking much more openly about mental health and are aware of the importance of supporting employees who may be going through a tough time.

The world of work has taken a positive shift towards reducing the stigma of experiencing poor mental health and increasing the help available whether through Employee Assistance Programmes, office yoga or meditation classes, or more flexible working.

That’s definitely something to celebrate…but more can be done. And, arguably, more needs to be done.

Forty-eight per cent of workers say they’ve experienced a mental health problem in their current job, and only half of those talked to their employer about it, according to a 2018 study of 44,000 employees by Mind.

Why provide support for poor mental health at work?

Your workforce is made up of individual people all of whom have different things going on in their lives and the potential to experience poor mental health.

They’re not just team members, they’re humans. And with mental health problems affecting one in four people in any given year, it’s more than likely that at some point one of your colleagues may need extra support.

Workplace Mental Health First Aid training
Staff who felt their manager supported their mental health or could spot the signs that someone might be struggling were far more likely to say they would be able to talk about their mental health at work, according to a survey by Mind.

If your organisation wants to create a culture of looking after and nurturing its workers, and truly deliver support for staff, mental health and wellbeing cannot be forgotten about.

Of course, there are good economic and business reasons for helping your team stay mentally healthy as well. Employee absences related to mental health is responsible for 70 million work days being lost each year in the UK, at a cost to employers of £2.4 billion.

Mental Health First Aid training at work shows your team that you take their wellbeing seriously, encourages positive conversations about mental health in the workplace, and gives them the chance to learn skills to help their colleagues – and anyone else – who is going through difficult times.   

What is Mental Health First Aid training in the workplace like?

Mental Health First Aid training can be delivered on-site at your place of work or virtually.

The course takes two days face-to-face, or 15 hours online in a blended format. During this time delegates will learn life-saving knowledge and skills such as empathetic listening, helpful and unhelpful language, risk factors and a first aid framework to support colleagues with a range of illnesses including depression and anxiety.

Mental Health First Aid training at work
Mental Health First Aid training can be delivered
virtually or in-person.

The size of the group is kept fairly small (usually around 16 people) to ensure everyone can stay safe and supported. As we’re talking about potentially sensitive subjects, this is super important.

And, although we are talking about serious subjects sometimes, I also like to bring a light-hearted approach and look for the moments of joy and laughter too when appropriate to lighten the mood when possible.

Upon completion of the course, delegates become Mental Health First Aiders, which lasts for a 3 year period when a renewal is due.

In the workplace, Mental Health First Aiders are a recognised point of contact for anyone who may be struggling. They will have the skills to not only spot the signs of a range of mental health illnesses but also a five-point framework they can use to provide initial support and assistance.

It doesn’t mean they’re professional counsellors or there to diagnose or treat their ill colleagues. Just like with physical first aid, they’re there in the first instance to help and should they feel further professional support is necessary, they’ll know the best options to offer the person they’re supporting.

With a network of Mental Health First Aiders in your organisation, you can give your team direct support in the workplace. Talking to a colleague equipped with the right skills and knowledge might just help someone to open up and begin their healing process.

If you want to find out more about running Mental Health First Aid training at your work & how to implement a network of MHFAiders email me at: chingwag@andyelwood.com

Read this blog to hear from Phil Macdonald, managing partner at Oberlanders, about why he chose to run a Mental Health First Aid training in the firm and his experience of taking the course.