what is a mental health first aider?
By Emily Roach, Paws in Work guest blogger.
As of 1981 under The Health and Safety Regulations, it became a legal requirement that in every workplace, there must be access to a physical first aid kit or a trained first aider; why isn’t this the case for mental health? Mental health is just as important; therefore, it should become standard that the same legalities apply for mental health in the workplace. There have, however, been frequent discussions in parliament regarding mental health, along with government funding towards mental well-being. This indicates that potentially in a few years’ time, the legal requirements of mental health facilities in the workplace are likely to follow suit on the laws of physical first aid. It is hoped that mental health first aid will hopefully become part of The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulations.
what is a mental health first aider (mhfa)?
A MHFAs role is essentially being the first point of contact for employees who are seeking guidance if they are experiencing any problems or have concerns relating to their mental health. As well as assisting those who approach them directly, MHFAs can spot the warning signs of someone who may be developing a mental health issue and will intervene accordingly. It is important to understand that a MHFA does not replace a professional therapist or counsellor, they establish what causes mental health problems and provide possible solutions for them.
why do we need mhfa's?
MHFAs are extremely valuable for aiding employee well-being. You might be shocked to discover that 60% of employees experience poor mental health due to work, 1 in 5 employees have admitted to calling in sick from the impact of stress caused by their job, and this sadly has resulted in 42% of employees considering resigning. Unlike physical injuries which are clearly visible, mental health issues are sometimes heavily disguised, MHFAs are trained to identify them and offer much-needed assistance, tailored to the individual’s needs.
how many mhfa's should we have?
Just like physical first aiders, it is best to have as many MHFAs as possible on the premises. The more people who have training and knowledge on helping those who are in mental distress, the better the chances are of improving the overall well-being of employees.
how long does mhfa training take and how often do we need to do it?
The duration of MHFA training can vary, it depends on your course format and specific training needs. For example, some of the courses we offer last for 2 days with 7-hour training sessions, whereas other courses can span over 2 weeks with shorter training sessions. It is recommended that mental health first aiders update their skills and knowledge via a MHFA refresher course every 3 years; these are the same guidelines for physical first aid training.
book a mhfa training course with us!
Hopefully it will soon become routine that mental health first aid training will be required as part of a staff well-being programme. Taking the step of becoming a MHFA will make a positive impact not only on your own life, but for those who surround you.
As well as our puppy therapy programmes, we offer a range of MHFA England accredited courses, to provide you with the skills and training you need to protect the wellbeing of your staff, peers, and potentially save someone’s life. Check out our range of mental health training courses and book your place here: https://www.pawsinwork.com/mental-health
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