Mental Health First Aiders in the Workplace

As it is Mental Health Awareness week, Find Your Flex wants to do its part in raising said awareness. We are calling on all organisations to prioritise having Mental Health First Aiders on site for their staff at all times. We wish to help Mind.org.uk spread the word on mental health and how as a society we can bring further awareness and support to this matter.

Why it is an employer’s Responsibility to Provide Mental Health First Aiders.

Thankfully, society is moving forward in recognising and supporting people’s mental health. Something that was more or less a taboo subject not that long ago. However, now that mental health is a top priority, we must take steps to support this. At present employers must have an onsite First Aider to deal with any physical issues that can occur. However, it is now just as important that businesses provide Mental Health First Aiders for their staff.

At all times there are people struggling with their mental health. Whether due to ongoing issues in this area or in response to some traumatic or stressful event. Employers cannot expect their output and quality of work to be of the highest standard during this time. Therefore ensuring the company has a trained Mental Health First Aider equipped to support people is just as much an investment as anything else. However, it is more of an obligation. Mental health issues can be just as damaging and debilitating as physical health issues. Therefore businesses have the obligation to keep their employees as safe as they can in this regard.

What is a Mental Health First Aider?

It is important for a Mental Health First Aider to set boundaries. Just as a physical First Aider is not a doctor, a Mental Health Frist Aider is not a psychologist. They are not there to diagnose people on their mental health. What they are first and foremost, is someone who will listen. A Mental Health First Aider is a good listener; understanding, empathetic and approachable. They are given tools to properly respond to certain situations regarding mental health. While they are not meant to provide diagnosis or ongoing support, they are shown how to recognise symptoms. And can advise seeking further professional help, or in severe cases report concerns to the appropriate manager.

Fundamentally, a Mental Health First Aider is there to provide reassurance, information and acknowledgment. Sometimes all a person needs is to talk to someone about the issue. In more serious circumstances a Mental Health First Aider is able to provide information to get the professional help they require. Mental Health First Aiders are often the first point of call for people who may not know they have a serious mental health issue and need professional help. Therefore it is imperative that we have more Mental Health First Aiders on the workforce in every sector. Just like with physical First Aiders, there are training courses to become a Mental Health First Aider. MHFA England are one such course providers, look here to find out more about becoming a Mental Health First Aider and what the role entails.

Mental Health and the Future of Working

As we head toward the future of work, we are claiming to be a more diverse and inclusive society. Organisations are also claiming that their working environment is diverse and inclusive. In order to prove this, having adequate Mental Health care is a must. We know now how important this is and it is vital that the proper support is in place for workers and even their families if need be. Businesses are taking the steps to accommodate mental health issues; flexible working, mental health days, stress related leave etc. This is the next step to ensuring people have the support they need personally and professionally in this area.

For companies that don’t have these support systems in place, that is no longer acceptable. The Future of Work is having the correct support for mental health in place. One day this could become a legal obligation rather than a moral or ethical one. It would look far better if businesses already have this in place when that day comes.

For a further look into what employers need to do to accommodate people, check out one of our other blogs on what changes employers need to make concerning neurodiverse people.

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