Did you know there are over 188,500 people trained in mental health first aid skills in England?*

That’s a significant amount of people and yet, in my conversations with business managers and many HR professionals, knowledge of mental health first aid is pretty scant.

We all have mental health, just as we have physical health and, as with physical health our mental health can change.  Factors that can affect a change in our mental health might be:

  • Lifestyle – late nights, poor diet, illness, excessive alcohol intake an illicit drug use.
  • Environmental – unemployment, poor housing, social isolation.
  • Emotional – relationship problems, conflicting cultural values and beliefs, peer pressure.
  • Acute life events – bereavement, accidents, pregnancy and childbirth, being a victim of crime.
  • Chronic stress – debt, prolonged use of alcohol/drugs, accommodation problems.

An individual’s response to each of these situations will determine how well they cope.  Variation in response may be down to genetics, individual coping or thinking style, environment and social skills.  Whatever the reason for the change in mental health, having someone to talk to who will listen without judgement, who is able to guide the individual to appropriate support and who encourages the individual to find their own support strategies will help.  Mental Health First Aiders can do just that.

Mental Health First Aiders are taught to:

  • Identify the early signs of mental ill health.
  • Have confidence in starting a conversation about mental health.
  • Provide help to prevent mental ill health from getting worse and recover more quickly.
  • Feel confident guiding someone towards appropriate support.

Mental Health First Aiders in your organisation  can help you to proactively support mental health in the workplace as part of your overall wellbeing strategy.  They can also support your diversity and inclusion strategy by helping to raise awareness of mental health literacy and reduce the stigma of mental health problems.

If you’d like to find out more about how Mental Health First Aid and how to introduce them in your organisation please get in touch with me.

*Mental Health First Aid England