Mental Health First Aid

21/01/2020

Thousands of people go on a training course each year to learn first aid skills such as how to bandage a wound or resuscitate someone if their heart has stopped beating.

But have you ever thought about learning mental health first aid?

Back in 2017, an initiative was put in place by Public Health England to do just that. It aimed to train a million people and help them not only assess their own mental well-being but also improve their skills and confidence in dealing with other people who may have mental health issues.

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid, or MHFA, is a recognised training course that is focused on teaching individuals how to spot the first signs of mental health problems. Just as importantly, it helps to build confidence in dealing with such challenges, especially in the workplace.

We often reticent about getting involved if we think someone is struggling with mental health issues. That might be because we’re not at all confident and we’re frightened of saying or doing the wrong thing. Or it could be because we simply don’t understand what we are dealing with and find it easier to look the other way.

Staff with MHFA training can be added to any business or organisation. The simple presence of someone who is able to help people talk more about their mental health and not feel intimidated can have a profound impact. Training can also help reduce the stigma of mental health and develop a more positive culture that everyone can buy into within the organisation.

The Benefits for Your Business or Organisation

Businesses are sometimes reticent about introducing a mental health policy for employees simply because they don’t know where to start. Training certain staff in mental health first aid is a good starting point and delivers a number of benefits.

If you are an individual, it’s also an excellent qualification and one that more and more businesses are looking for nowadays.

The MHFA course lasts for two days and can:

  • Help you understand and spot the warning signs of mental health issues.
  • Give you the confidence to approach a colleague and actually start that all-important conversation.
  • Pay attention to what the person is saying by developing your own listening skills.
  • Make a judgement as to whether someone is likely to harm themselves or even attempt to commit suicide.
  • Support the person to access the appropriate professional support, including internal mental health support systems.

You’ll also learn things such as critical incidence reporting when to know if you need to call the emergency services, why it’s important to maintain confidentiality and how to protect yourself while performing the role of a mental health first aider.

Who Should Go On The Course?

For businesses and organisations, it’s important to find the right people to act as first aiders. You will need someone who wants to do the job and is willing to learn. They’ll also require the time away from their normal duties to be able to handle mental health issues in the workplace.

As a business, you’ll also want to put in the infrastructure that enables your mental health first aider to provide help in place, including pathways to external mental health support if necessary.

Where to Find a Course

Courses are run by OJ Health and Safety Solutions and they provide specific provision for the workplace, universities, schools and colleges and the armed forces. All courses are licensed and backed up by the current evidence-based best practice.

With stress a growing problem in our busy work lives, it’s important to have a mental health first aider on site who is able to identify when someone needs help and provide the appropriate initial support.

You can find out more here.

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