Mental Health First Aid
With the focus on mental ill health in the workplace growing, employers are on the hunt for ways in which they can introduce preventative, effective measures.
An inexpensive option is the notion of mental health first-aiders. As the name suggests, these are people in the office who are trained to provide re-assurance and initial support to staff who are struggling psychologically. While they are not qualified to administer the kind of treatment offered by a qualified psychologist, they are trained to be able to spot certain signs and point people in the direction of available services and benefits.
Employees concerned about a member of their team can also seek advice. Mental health first aiders can be approached by staff outside of internal line management structures and can therefore be safe in the knowledge that any discussions will be confidential.
It is estimated that one in four people experience a mental health problem but there remains a real stigma around being open about the issue, especially in the workplace. Specialist training companies such as Mental Health First Aid England (www.mhfaengland.org) offer training courses. It is hoped that these kind of schemes will encourage people to seek effective help early on and and we will see gradually a break down in the barriers to creating mentally fit workplaces.
Dr. Bridget Juniper is an employee well-being consultant at Lockton Employee Benefits. She is also Head of Work and Well-Being Ltd which specialises in the measurement of employee well-being. www.workandwellbeing.com