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Mental Health First Aid; the key to workplace wellbeing
12 May 2021
We all have First Aiders in the workplace to provide us with help in the event of an injury. Mental Health First Aid works in the same way. However, instead of learning to dress a wound or give CPR, Mental Health First Aid specifically tackles mental health problems.
The real cost of poor mental health at work
It’s been estimated that poor mental health among employees costs UK employers £42bn – £45bn each year¹. There are a number of factors that contribute to these mental health costs. One in particular is the rise in ‘presenteeism’ – this is where employees still attend work despite having poor mental health and as a result, they’re more unproductive.
It’s believed that the number of employees who say that they always or usually come into work when they’re ‘struggling with mental health and would benefit from time off’, is almost fourteen times greater than those who say they always or usually take time off².
It’s therefore really important that organisations invest in mental health support, with the aim to:
- Address and prevent mental ill health caused or made worse by work
- Reduce sickness absence caused by mental health problems
- Support employees with an existing mental health condition to allow them to thrive.
How Mental Health First Aid can help
Let’s face it, employees might not always feel comfortable talking to their manager about their mental health. However, they’re likely to feel more at ease being able to speak to a colleague who’s specifically trained in Mental Health First Aid.
By providing Mental Health First Aid training it will help to raise the awareness and in the long-term, will aid the reduction and eventually eliminate the stigma associated with mental health issues. Training people in Mental Health First Aid gives them the skills to provide support to those with mental health issues and helps build an open and supportive culture in the workplace.
Being a Mental Health First Aider doesn’t mean you become a therapist/counsellor or you’re able to diagnose mental health conditions and provide long term support. The role is to be a point of contact, spot the early signs of a mental health issue and provide reassurance for a person who may be experiencing mental health distress and to guide them towards the right support.
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