Do you have mental health first aiders in your workplace?

Over the past two years the number of businesses taking part in the mental health first aid training has quadrupled, indicating that employers are actively trying to address this important issue.

However, despite the increased awareness, there is still a taboo about mental health in the workplace.

A recent survey revealed that 62 per cent of HR, wellbeing and benefits specialists agreed that mental health was their board’s biggest area of concern.

While it’s encouraging to see more employers making changes to normalise this, the reality is that it remains an incredibly complex issue, especially when it comes to considering how to support individual employees’ needs.

Training employees as mental health first aiders is one of the many ways employers can introduce their wellbeing strategies.

Mental health first aiders act as the first line of support for fellow employees. For instance, if a colleague is experiencing a panic attack, wants to have a chat about their mental health or is looking for advice on how to best approach someone else who’s struggling, they can help.

It’s important to note that just having mental health first aiders’ on site isn’t enough to support mental health at work properly, think of it as one of many wellbeing pillars employers need to raise to build a strategy that truly enables their people to lead healthy, active lives.

Businesses considering introducing mental health first aid training to their workforce should consider:

  • Mental health first aid training can’t be a tick-box exercise. It needs to be part of an overall framework for employee support.
  • It should be one part of bio-psycho-social support. Take a holistic approach to building your wellbeing strategy. Don’t overlook employees’ physical and social health.
  • Mental health first aiders need to support themselves. Once they’ve completed their training, what measures will you put in place to support them? Regular get-togethers are a great way to refresh training principles, share learnings and offer mutual support. And keep the conversation going.
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