I recently completed Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to equip myself with the knowledge and skills to be able to best support those experiencing issues with their mental health.
This is a difficult subject. The training often felt uncomfortable, given the topic, and I found it challenging. However, mental health is an incredibly important issue. We must all raise awareness of the challenges faced by people, their families and their communities.
Importantly, we must create supportive environments in which people feel they can talk about mental health. Whether their concerns relate to themselves, or others. Throughout, and beyond, the global Covid-19 pandemic, the events of the past year have highlighted and increased discourse surrounding the effects and legacy issues of mental health issues.
The importance of mental health first aiders
Mental health is as important as physical health and should be treated with equal respect and care. This extends to the workplace and to the wider community.
The first step towards this is to ensure that, just as we have physical first aiders in the workplace and wider community, we must also make provision for mental health first aiders.
Claire Russell and the team at Mental Health in Business provided my recent training. The course included learning how to provide a caring and safe environment for colleagues, friends, and family members. I want to thank, and pay enormous respect to, Claire and her team, who are all doing brilliant work. We must all do our best to become more comfortable in talking about these important issues and to develop our understanding of them.
So, what is what is Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)?
MHFA is an internationally recognised and accredited training that equips you with the knowledge, skills and understanding to identify symptoms to support both yourself and others who are experiencing mental health problems.
We learned vital techniques to help us to identify the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety and psychosis, along with other serious mental health issues.
Following the training, among other things, we now have the confidence to first identify and then approach, assess, assist, give support and offer encouragement and support to those experiencing mental health problems. We can then guide them to seek the right professional help if required. Of equal importance, we developed a much improved understanding of how to manage our own self-care.
Who can attend an MHFA course?
Everyone can benefit from MHFA training; parents, carers, volunteers and adults (19+). It is particularly beneficial for anyone who has regular contact with the public. As employers, as part of the Health and Wellbeing portfolio, it means we have trained staff to provide active intervention should a mental health issue be identified.
Poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion each year. However, for every £1 spent by employers on mental health interventions, they get back £5 in reduced absence, presenteeism, and staff turnover (Deloitte, 2020).
Please let us all work together to raise awareness of mental health, provide support to those in need, and make the world a kinder place.
Brett Sainty, CEO, BLW Insurance Brokers Limited.