The importance of Mental Health First Aiders in the workplace

Mental Health First Aiders

We are specialist First Aid Training providers who operate across the country teaching people skills they can use in the workplace and at home. Since the Covid-19 pandemic started in 2020, there has been a larger focus on Mental Health in the workplace and the role of the Mental Health First Aider has become all the more important.

The return to a ‘new normal’ in terms of our working lives, has meant that we have all had to adapt to a new way of working and living and sometimes the lines between the two get a little blurred; especially for those employees working from home. We’re going to take a look at just what a Mental Health First Aider is and how valuable they can be in your workplace.

Remember, if you would like to talk to us about our training provisions to businesses and organisations across the UK, call us on 01276 586943 or email us.

What is a Mental Health First Aider?

Mental Health First Aid has its roots in Australia and has now spread throughout the world. It is a proactive way for employers to invest in the mental and emotional health of their staff; something that benefits both parties.

There is a real drive to continue to remove the stigma attached to speaking about your Mental Health and having someone in the workplace acting as the first port of call for people struggling at work is a huge step in the right direction.

Mental Health First Aiders are the first point of contact for employees who experience Mental Health issues or emotional distress at work. Their role is to provide support, information about resources available on-site as well as unconditional friendship in times where it’s most needed!

Are Mental Health First Aiders a legal requirement?

Currently, having a Mental Health First Aider in the workplace is a recommendation rather than law; however, Mental Health is increasingly becoming as important for employers to support as physical health and so, it is likely that some kind of Mental Health provision will become law in the future.

While having a Mental Health First Aider is not law, it is a good idea for workplaces to at least have a Mental Health Champion so that employees have a person to whom they can go with their issues.

Who should train to be a Mental Health First Aider?

Training is open to anyone who is interested in helping those people in need or learning more about Mental Health in the workplace. Existing First Aiders who are already in place in the business can make excellent Mental Health First Aiders.

They will learn techniques on how to help people with their emotional well-being at work. If you are an employer you may need to consider that those wishing to be trained are likely to have to add this to their current role, and whether or not they can still perform their primary role while supporting their colleagues.

How else can my employer help manage Mental Health?

Employers are increasingly under pressure to look after their staff, one of the simplest but most effective ways of doing this is by supporting their mental and emotional well-being. With almost 15% of people in the UK suffering from mental health issues, the reality is that employers will be impacted by sickness absence and reduced productivity if they do not act; in extreme cases, they may be presented with legal claims from not fulfilling their duty of care remit.

Making some small adjustments in the workplace can make have a big impact on the emotional and mental state of your employees; From colour schemes to natural light and opportunities to seek counsel, having a Mental Health First Aider available to your staff could encourage employee loyalty, improve their physical health and productivity.

Statistics for Mental Health in the workplace

According to research conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, one in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace – that’s 14.7%. The Thriving at Work Report found that stress, depression, and anxiety cause 44% of all sick days in the UK. According to research by Deloitte absenteeism due to mental health issues costs UK businesses around £7.9 billion.

Research also found that women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common Mental Health problem as full-time employed men; however, this should be caveated with a note that men are significantly less likely to admit to or speak about their own mental health conditions.

Mental Health and Hybrid working

As businesses adopt a hybrid means of employment, we are finding that many people’s lives are improving – specifically when it comes to their perceptions of their work/life balance.

Yes, it can be challenging to work in isolation but the pandemic has forced many businesses’ hands in adapting to a more flexible and remote way of working. This has decreased the amount of time spent commuting, opened up opportunities to relocate, and improved productivity as employees benefit from a more satisfying approach to succeeding in their roles.

Some negatives associated with this type of working are feelings of detachment and isolation from colleagues. We are a social species and much of our perceived worth is (rightly or wrongly) reinforced by interactions with our peers at both personal and professional levels.

Get in Touch

We are First Aid Training Specialists and provide traditional First Aid and First Aid for Mental Health Training Courses. If you have a staff and would like to speak to us about how we could help with your training requirements, make sure you call us on 01276 586943 or email us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.