Do you need a Mental Health First Aider at work?
August 04, 2023

Do you need a Mental Health First Aider at work?

For most companies, health and safety at work focuses on regulations and requirements. Those are essential, but they’re only the starting point for how we care for our workers.

We’ve discussed the availability and benefits of Mental Health First Aid training at work and are undoubtedly convinced about their value. Still, we completely understand why others might not be.

There’s a legal requirement to provide physical First Aiders at work, but do you really need Mental Health First Aiders as well? This post will help you decide.

Do you need a Mental Health First Aider at work?

Benefits of having a Mental Health First Aider at work

If you haven’t heard of Mental Health First Aiders before, there are loads more details in our previous post about them, and it’s worth checking that out. Here’s a quick recap of some of the most important benefits of having a trained Mental Health First Aider.

  • They raise awareness of mental health at work

  • Trained Mental Health First Aiders feel empowered to intervene early, often staving off problems before they escalate

  • Training improves workers' confidence in supporting colleagues with mental health issues

  • Having designated Mental Health First Aiders helps reduce the stigma and isolation felt by many people struggling with their mental health

  • Employees can be directed to appropriate support quickly and easily

  • Improves staff wellbeing, reducing absences and increasing productivity

How many Mental Health First Aiders should you have?

How many Mental Health First Aiders your organisation needs will depend on a number of factors. The biggest one, predictably, is the size of your organisation. The last thing any of us wants is for your Mental Health First Aiders to start to feel overwhelmed and experience burnout.

One good strategy is to look at how many physical health First Aiders you have and try to match those numbers. Given that mental health conditions can have a significantly larger impact on staff absence than physical illness, this seems like a sensible starting point.

This might be difficult to achieve straight away if you don’t have many staff actively enthused about taking on the role. Many companies find recruiting more Mental Health First Aiders easier once they become an established part of the workplace.

Who should your Mental Health First Aiders be?

Even if you’re struggling to find enough volunteers to become Mental Health First Aiders, it’s essential that no one should ever feel pressured into the role. Remember that some staff might be carrying out mental health support work at home and won’t feel comfortable with additional responsibilities at work.

Even amongst those staff who volunteer, some will be better suited than others. Here are some of the main characteristics of a great Mental Health First Aider:

They reflect the diversity of your workplace

To be really effective, Mental Health First Aiders should be drawn from a wide cross-section of your organisation. Your aim is to always be able to provide a Mental Health First Aider that each employee can relate to.

This means they should reflect different genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and ages. It’s especially important that they are also drawn from all levels of your organisation, including senior management.

They're genuinely interested in learning about Mental Health

Mental Health First Aid training is extensive, but a great Mental Health First Aider will be inspired to read more widely and continue learning more about supporting others. Being motivated by a desire to learn and help others will help sustain your Mental Health First Aider.

They're mostly office-based

Remote working is obviously on the rise, and some employees will be able to offer support during a video call, but that’s rarely ideal. One of the advantages of having a Mental Health First Aider at work is that they’re readily available to colleagues throughout the day.

They take confidentiality very seriously

Mental Health First Aiders are being placed in a position of trust. By training them and suggesting that your employees turn to them, you’re telling your staff that they’re safe to open up to this person. Be sure that they’re able to live up to those expectations.

How can I train Mental Health First Aiders?

Here’s where Paws in Work can help. We offer a wide range of mental health at work training packages, ranging from specific seminars and presentations to full Mental Health First Aid at Work qualifications and refresher courses.

We’re especially proud of our Gold packages, which combine puppy therapy and our mental health masterclasses.

Book your Mental Health First Aid Training course today.

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