Thinking about the famous words of Rudyard Kipling, “What, Why, When, How, Where & Who” are a great place to start when thinking about a mentally fit workplace and bringing Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) into your organisation.
The first thing I normally get asked when I explain I’m a Mental Health First Aid instructor is, “What is that?”
Mental Health First Aid is the process of giving someone initial support when they might be having a mental health problem. Much the same as a health and safety first aider, MHFA’s are there to help, support and often, get further help for the person they are supporting. It is not about diagnosing, it is about:
- Assisting, assessing and approaching someone who needs you;
- Listening without judgement;
- Giving support; and,
- Encouraging the person to seek the right kind of ongoing support, both professional and emotional.
The ‘whys’ of bringing MHFA into your organisation are simple:
- Your team will thank you for it. Becoming a MHFA is something many people in your organisation will want to do. Ask around to prove the point.
- You will help people that need it. Once you have the right people qualified as MHFA and you inform your staff of their purpose in the workplace, people will use this much needed support.
- There are guidelines in place already stating that you have the responsibility to your staff to provide them with the things they need to be mentally and physically healthy in the workplace. Specific guidance on what organisations need to provide for mental health first aid will continue to increase.
As mentioned above, the laws and directives, as well as the pressure from employees to be doing something about MHFA is only going to increase. There’s no time like the present to show your team you care by becoming a MHFA, or qualifying someone in your organisation to take on this amazing role.
To be a fully qualified Mental Health First Aider, there is a fantastic 2-day course provided by Waves Wellbeing. We offer to run this in house as a private event, or you can send members of your team to one of our public courses, where they will qualify and network at the same time.
There are other courses such as the 1-day workshops where people can become a ‘Mental Health Champion’ or ½ day seminars where your whole team can have a fantastic session to build everyone’s mental health awareness.
You can use the skills you would learn as a MHFA anywhere. Similar to being a certified Health and safety first aider, a MHFA learns about what to do in a crisis situation in the workplace, but can equally apply these skills to the world in general to make a difference when needed.
Anyone who wants to become a MHFA for all the right reasons, and make a difference to the world they work in. If you’re able to have several MHFA in your place of work, you should consider an eclectic mix of people, so that there is someone everyone feels comfortable approaching if they need to.
Of all the whos and whats, I feel the most important point to remember is ‘why?’. Here in the UK, we’re getting so much better at supporting those living with mental health conditions, but there is still a long way to go. Embracing MHFA in your organisation is a powerful step you can take towards creating a mentally healthy workplace, and I hope you’ll agree that the list of important ‘whys’, easily outweighs the ‘why nots’. Becoming a Mental Health First Aider will change your perspective on life and could save the life of another. So, why not?