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Mental Health First Aiders - Does your company need one now?
30 Nov 2021

In today’s modern world everyone faces challenges whether that be in our employment, in our personal lives or even at a global level.

Changing jobs, moving house, demanding workloads, illness and bereavement all place considerable stress on our mental health and at some point all of us will experience some if not all of these stresses.

Social isolation, lockdown, physical distancing, as well as loss of loved ones have all added to the strain as we come out of a global pandemic. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for the mental complications that have resulted.

Over time depression, anxiety and stress can build up and create a significant amount of absences and days off in the workplace which create productivity and subsequent financial issues for businesses.This is why it is important that our work environment is empathetic towards mental wellness.

the role of mental health first aiders in the workplace

The key responsibilities of a Mental Health First Aider (commonly abbreviated to MHFA) include identifying signs and symptoms of mental health issues, being able to listen without judgment and signposting people to professional help as required. Hundreds of thousands of people in England and 4 million people worldwide are already trained Mental Health First Aiders and many more are set to join them. 

MHFA’s help by ensuring that workers feel safe and happy in their employment. Unfortunately, mental health issues are not always treated like physical health issues and do carry a stigma; therefore bringing a Mental Health worker into your workplace will help employees to recognise that mental health is just as important as physical health and that they should not feel ashamed of voicing any anxiety, depression or other issues to their employer. Please note it is not legally required to have a workplace MHFA. Though the benefit far outweighs any additional costs.

Why having a MHFA at work can help your business

Employees take around 7 days off work a year due to health reasons and 40% of these days are due to mental health . However, research shows that employees will say that they are physically sick rather than have mental health issues to avoid being stigmatised. Mental health issues cause employees to underperform at work, meaning businesses can lose up to £605 per employee annually. When employers take care of their worker’s mental health in a positive manner, the wellbeing and performance of staff will change for the better.

What kind of qualifications does the MHFA need? 

  • There are several training organisations, including St John’s Ambulance, which offer Workplace Mental Health First Aid training. Offered at different levels, this qualification equips attendees with the knowledge to identify those who require mental health support and the confidence to offer assistance when required. The course content provides:An in-depth
  • understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing
  • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
  • Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
  • Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
  • Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support - whether that’s self-help resources, through their employer, the NHS, or a mix

Do MHFA’s need to understand the impact of technology on mental health in the workplace?

Yes, MHFA’s definitely need to understand the pressures that technology places on employees. Changes to working practices, the increase of home working and hybrid working arrangements, has made employees vulnerable to technical overuse. Work phones, home phones, laptops and the constant notifications that vie for workers attention makes switching off at the end of the working day, and at times throughout the day, extremely difficult. 

A happier, healthier and more productive workplace, requires that the MHFA addresses the problems of overwhelm caused by an overflowing email inbox, constant notifications and an ever-growing to-do list. By working with experts, the MHFA can give employees the tools and know-how that they need to deal with the distractions of smartphones, internet, and multiple emails for a more productive and happier workforce.

At techtimeout, we are here to help UK workplaces enable better tech habits at work with our workplace programmes, tools, and resources to improve teamwork and promote positive health and wellbeing.

We encourage you to sign up your organisation to the annual techtimeout Tuesday on 30th November to show your employees how you value strong mental health. Click here to join

References

(Being a Mental Health First Aider, PDF, MHFA England)

(Mental health first aid training in the workplace guide, st johns ambulance, sja.org.uk)

(Causes of Stress, webmd.com)

(Mental health in the COVID-19 Pandemic: recommendations for prevention, www.mentalhealth.org.uk)

(The Skills You Need to Become a Mental Health First Aider, kellyscause.com)

(Time to Talk: Why Mental Health First Aid is Vital in Any Workplace, essentialsiteskills.co.uk)

(Mental health first aid: 10 reasons every employer should invest in mental health, sdgresources.relx.com)

Training providers :

 https://mhfaengland.org/individuals/adult/2-day/

https://www.sja.org.uk/courses/workplace-mental-health-first-aid/