Mental Health First Aid

In early 2019, I decided that I wanted to start teaching mental health through my company Jewel Health & Safety Ltd. This was born from my own experience of mental health challenges over the last 20 years, and some poor experiences within companies and how they failed to help people with mental health issues.

With many people now working from home or furloughed, coupled with the uncertainty associated with Covid 19, we will see more people suffering from both anxiety and depression to name but a few.As employers, we need to understand how to help our staff members who might be suffering with their mental health.

Mental Health First Aid doesn’t teach us to become a counsellor or psychologist, just like training as a regular first aider doesn’t teach you to become a doctor, paramedic or surgeon.What it does teach is for us to be the first point of contact for someone experiencing a mental health condition, and give us the ability to signpost that person to the best place that they can receive help.The training also helps us become more vigilant in the workplace, and identify people who could be experiencing difficulty, and open a supportive conversation with them.

Talking to the companies I work with; they comment that one of the hurdles they need to overcome is that of stigma.This is something that is slowly becoming less prevalent, but still needs to be addressed in modern society.

They’re two types of stigma associated with mental health.

  • Social Stigma: Includes the negative attitudes and discriminatory behaviours that society or particular individuals hold towards those with mental health problems.
  • Self Stigma: This is where people with mental health problems believe what is being said about their condition, and agree with their viewpoints.It’s also a worry about what other people will think of them if they talk about their mental health condition.

By bringing more awareness of mental health conditions in the workplace, we can steadily change the stigma that surrounds it.I know this first hand, as I’ve seen it work to great effect in the companies I work with.

In 2018, Great Britain lost 15.4 million working days to stress, depression or anxiety, with 595,000 cases reported.Current statistics say the 1 in 4 people experience a diagnosable mental health condition.With the effects of lockdown and COVID-19 continuing, I can see this number rising significantly this year.

All companies need to look after the mental wellbeing of their staff, especially as we start to come out of lockdown. There’s lots of information available but employers need to make sure it’s from a reputable source.

By being proactive, companies will be seen as supportive and understanding to their staff, and also help reduce the financial and operational burden of staff absence due to mental health problems.

For more information on this topic see my mental Health First Aid blog on my website :https://www.jewelsafety.co.uk/mental-health-first-aid1

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