The role of a Mental Health First Aider
A Mental Health First Aider in the workplace is the go-to person for anyone who is going through some form of mental health issue. This person may have to have an initial conversation with a colleague. The first aider will be present to help guide the person in distress to the relevant help that they need. They will also have the relevant knowledge to be able to spot someone who is developing a mental health issue. They will, therefore, be able to intervene before it escalates.
Being a Mental Health First Aider doesn’t qualify you to provide therapy to someone who may need it. They are there to support an individual and help to make their life at work easier. It is important not to be judgmental and to encourage them to access the available professional support.
An important part of the role is assessing the individual; if the person is getting worse and might be moving towards self-harm or suicide, the situation may need to be escalated. In the role, confidentiality is key, just like physical health or disciplinary within a company, each discussion must be protected.
It is beneficial to have a Mental Health First Aider to help those affected by poor mental health. Mental health issues are as much of a priority as physical ill-health.
How to become a Mental Health First Aider?
Train Direct has designated training courses to help people to recognise the symptoms of mental health so that they can support those who are affected by it. The training course assists in reducing the stigma of mental health. It also raises awareness of a range of conditions to those who may not know about them. And, as with physical First Aid, all of our Mental Health First Aid courses are OFQUAL regulated.
We have three different levels form an awareness course at level 1 up to the supervisory level 3, to find out more about what each of the courses cover, click here.
How to record an incident
As a regular appointed First Aider needs to fill in the accident forms; this is also the case in terms of mental health. Individuals must record critical incidents when necessary to help with the individual’s progression.
Should a Mental Health First Aider in the Workplace be mandatory?
Many people in today’s climate believe that a mental health first aider and physical first aider should be seen as equals. Although this is the case, there is no mandatory requirement to have a mental health first aider on-site in the workplace, yet!
In early 2019 parliament debated the subject; this was due to an increase in employers and mental health first aiders getting behind the cause. Although this was the case, no changes to the law have been made so far. However, when the HSE updated its guidance in 2020 it specifically mentioned the importance that provision for mental health first aid at work would be advantageous. There is speculation that having a mental health first aider may become mandatory in the near future, and the issue is due for further debate.
Why should Mental Health First Aiders be Mandatory?
All that we have at the moment in workplaces to support mental health is the goodwill of the employer. People who suffer from mental health problems are relying on employers to have the relevant knowledge to be able to support them. And let’s be honest; the stigma around mental health is well and truly still there.
Why should people see Mental Health as equal to Physical Health?
Mental ill-health affects just as many people as physical ill-health. In 2018, it was recorded that over 16 million people in the UK had experienced mental illness (that’s one in four people!).
If you don’t support people through their mental health issues, they can start to feel stigmatised. Without people on site who know about mental health, they won’t get the support they need. Up to 300,000 people with mental health issues lose their job each year, is that enough of a reason?
In 2018 3.9 million days were lost to non-fatal workplace injuries. Also, in that year, 15.4 million days were lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. That outweighs physical health considerably and highlights where the focus is and isn’t.
What can we do to support people for the meantime?
The more people are aware of it, the more support those in need get. Book onto a Mental Health First Aid course and be there for your employees.
When it comes to mental health, there are small things you can do to make a big difference. It is thought that 1 in 6 people in the UK will be affected at some point by a mental health problem.
If you know someone who is struggling with their mental wellbeing, it can be sometimes difficult to know what to do or how to help. Therefore, some people worry about saying or doing the wrong thing. However, it is important not to wait – giving them the support they need is crucial.
Some things to look out for in yourself and others
Being more anxious or irritable than normal
Disrupted sleep – sleeping too little or too much
Isolation – not socialising or going out and doing things they use to enjoy
Confused thinking or lack of concentration
Feeling extremely sad or low.
Change in eating habits – either lack of appetite or increased hunger
Simple ways to help make a difference
Talk to others about your mental wellbeing.
Listen to people tell who you about how they’re feeling.
Experiment ways that help you to deal with pressure or stress during the working day
Keep an eye out for others – if someone seems to be behaving differently, talk to them and ask them how they are
Be a supportive friend – support and listen to those close to you.
Learn the signs and symptoms of mental health illnesses
Mental illness is just as important as physical illness. Therefore, being supportive of someone’s mental wellbeing is essential to a person’s recovery.
Train Direct offer the following Mental Health First Aid courses: