Mental health impacts us all, and the workplace is no exception. But why exactly is Mental Health First Aid so important in the workplace?
Throughout this guide, we’ll explore what MHFA is before diving into the true importance of Mental Health First Aid in the workplace, including both employer and employee benefits of a great workplace mental health initiative. We hope it helps!
What is Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Why is it Important?
Mental Health First Aiders are people trained to spot the early signs of mental health issues and provide initial support. A Mental Health First Aider can help people with mental ill-health in the same way as a physical first aider helps people with physical ill-health.
Mental Health First Aid training courses are designed to give members of the public the skills and confidence to support someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Mental Health First Aid training is important because it:
- Helps to break down the stigma around mental ill-health
- Teaches people how to recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues
- Provides people with the skills and confidence to provide initial support to a person who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis
- Teaches people how to signpost others toward professional help.
The Importance of Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace
Mental Health First Aid can be vital to the modern workplace. With work-related stress being one of the biggest causes of sick days in the UK, it’s important that businesses do everything they can to support the mental wellbeing of their employees.
Mental Health First Aiders can provide invaluable support to employees who are struggling with mental ill-health. They can help to create a more open and understanding culture around mental health in the workplace, and they can signpost employees toward the relevant help if they need it. Mental Health First Aid training is vital for in the workplace because it:
- Helps employees to identify when a colleague is developing a mental health problem.
- Enables employees to improve their mental wellbeing and avoid poor mental health.
- Reduces absenteeism, presenteeism and the associated costs.
- Provides employees with the skills and confidence to have conversations about mental health.
- Encourages employees to signpost their colleagues toward professional help.
Employee Benefits of MHFA at Work
If an employee is experiencing a mental health issue or has experienced mental illness, it can sometimes be difficult for them to speak openly about it with their employer.
Mental Health First Aid training is especially beneficial for employees as it provides them with the skills and confidence to have conversations about mental health, which can encourage others to speak openly about their mental health. Further employee benefits include:
- Greater job satisfaction
- Reduced stress
- Increased resilience
- Improved team working
- Higher confidence levels.
Overall, MHFA training courses offer a sense of community and support for employees, which can be particularly beneficial for employees who are already struggling with their mental health. The courses also offer many businesses an understanding of how to support an employee who is experiencing a mental health crisis, a vital skill to have.
The Impact of Mental Health on Business
Mental health issues lose UK businesses an estimated £2.4 billion each year in absenteeism and reduced productivity. In addition, 70 million workdays are lost each year due to stress, depression and anxiety.
Mental health issues can also lead to increased staff turnover, as employees who experience unsupported poor mental health are more likely to take time off work or leave their job altogether. People experiencing mental health issues may also struggle to balance their working life with their personal life, and without the right support may find it difficult to concentrate or focus on their work.
Furthermore, Mental Health First Aid training can help businesses to reduce these costs by:
- Helping employees identify when a colleague is developing a mental health problem and signpost them to the right support before the issue snowballs into something bigger.
- Enabling employee wellbeing and, in turn, improving performance.
- Reducing absenteeism and presenteeism.
- Improving staff morale, motivation and retention.
Who Should Train For MHFA in the Workplace?
Anyone can train to provide mental health support in the workplace. It is recommended for employees at all levels, including:
Managers and supervisors
Training your leadership team can be hugely beneficial in terms of promoting a mentally healthy workplace. Not only can they provide support to employees, but they can also be a model for others and act as change champions within the organisation.
Human resources staff
HR professionals play an important role in creating mentally healthy workplaces. They can use their MHFA training to promote mental health awareness and understanding and to support employees who may be experiencing mental health problems.
Employee assistance programme staff
EAP providers can use their Mental Health First Aid courses to enhance the services they provide to employees. This might include offering guidance on how to support employees with mental health problems and providing information about available community resources.
Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace FAQs
Why is mental health important?
Just as many people have a first aid kit to deal with physical health emergencies, it’s just as important to have a “Mental Health First Aid kit” to deal with mental health emergencies.
In the same way that physical first aid is designed to stabilise someone who is physically injured, Mental Health First Aid is designed to stabilise someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis, and this is vital in the modern workplace.
Why is Mental Health First Aid important in the workplace?
Mental Health First Aid is important in the workplace to provide relevant knowledge to employees and offer further support if they are struggling with their mental health. It can also create a more mentally healthy workplace culture overall.
What are some common signs that someone is struggling with their mental health at work?
Some common signs that someone is struggling with their mental health include:
- Withdrawing from social activities or regularly missing work
- Expressing increasing levels of anxiety, worry or distress
- Displays of irritability, anger or aggression
- Difficulty concentrating and prolonged lower productivity levels.
What do you mean by first aid in mental health?
If someone is experiencing a mental health emergency, for example, they are trying to engage in self-harm behaviours or they are experiencing a panic attack, the goal of first aid is to provide support and stability until professional help can be accessed. This might involve providing reassurance, listening non-judgmentally, or signposting the individual to relevant services.
Why is it important that we know how to do Mental Health First Aid?
Physical ill-health first aid has been around for many years, and most workplaces will have someone who is trained in this. However, having a Mental Health First Aider is a relatively new concept, so it is important that we know how to do it so that we can support employees who are suffering with their mental health effectively and adequately.
Looking For Expert Business Mental Health First Aid Training?
MHFA training can help you and your employees feel more confident about having these conversations, creating a mentally healthier workplace overall.
At Thriiver, we are committed to supporting diversity in the workplace. Our workplace mental health training is designed to be inclusive and relevant to all employees, regardless of their background or identity. With benefits for both individuals and employers, an MHFA training course is a valuable investment for any organisation.
Get in touch today for more information about our expert Mental Health at Work Training!