Benefits of having a Mental Health First Aider in the workplace

Nearly every company in the UK has a physical first aider. Why? Because the health and wellbeing of employees is important right? Yet, why is it so uncommon to have a Mental Health First Aider in the workplace? Especially when Mental Health issues now account for more lost time at work than physical problems.

In a time where suicides in the UK are on the rise, the matter of mental health at work is not talked about enough. People should be able to discuss mental health in the workplace as easily as they can with physical health. Stress, anxiety and depression lead the way for high absence rates, but this seems to go unrecognised.

Although with that being said, Mental Health Charities such as Mind are gradually breaking down the stigma that those who struggle with mental health face. But what better way for people to help than having someone train as a Mental Health First Aider for the workplace. 

If you’d like to know more about mental health at work, the Mind website has some statistics.

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental health first aid is simply the mental health equivalent to physical health first aid. Just like physical first aid, mental health first aid courses don’t teach to diagnose or treat. Instead, they teach people how to spot the signs and symptoms of someone potentially suffering from mental health. They’re also taught how to offer initial support until appropriate and professional help is received.

What is a Mental Health First Aider?

A Mental Health First Aider (or MHFA) is not a doctor nor a psychiatrist. They’re a member of a team who is trained to spot the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and signpost individuals to the relevant help they need. If someone is struggling with their mental health, an MHFA would be the go-to person. Equally, an MHFA has the appropriate knowledge to identify when someone is developing or going through a mental health problem. It’s also essential for an MHFA to understand when a situation may need to be escalated. For example, they need to be able to spot when someone could be on the path towards suicide or self-harm.

Although the role of a Mental Health First Aider is not to provide therapy, they must encourage individuals – who may need professional support – to seek and access it. They’re also there to make people’s time at work more comfortable and let them know that they’re not alone. 

Why should your company have a Mental Health First Aider?

This question takes me back to my initial point. We should all be extending the same attitude towards mental health that we do for physical health. Therefore every company should have a Mental Health First Aider, just as it has a physical. 

It’s evident by now that having a Mental Health First Aider benefits employees significantly by getting them the help they need and reducing the stigma. But having an MHFA can have a very positive impact on companies too. As previously mentioned, mental health issues are the leading cause of absences from work. Having an MHFA on hand to aid individuals means that they’ll be able to help early before problems get worse and require long term absences. Ultimately saving companies time and money. 

What does the course cover?

The Mental Health First Aid Course runs over two days. The course is designed to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and raise awareness. It also provides individuals who take the course with relevant knowledge and skills to help people in the workplace suffering from Mental Health issues. It covers a range of mental health topics from anxiety and depression to substance abuse. 

Where can you find the Mental Health First Aid Course? 

At Altta Wellbeing – based in Peterborough – we offer the two-day mental health first aid course. We provide two main sessions each day, covering topics such as risk factors of depression, anxiety disorders, and treatment and recovery. Visit our Courses page to find out more. 

Having a Mental Health First Aider in the workplace is hugely beneficial. Most importantly, it makes individuals struggling with mental health feel supported and provides them with the help they need. It also helps to shut down the stigma attached to mental health, and saves companies time and money too. It’s a wonder why Mental Health First Aid is treated as a secondary to Physical First Aid. However, everyone can do their part to change this, especially businesses who opt to have a Mental Health First Aider in their workplace.

Remember, there is no health without mental health.