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What is involved in mental Health First Aid?

14/12/2023

One colleague listening to another to depict what mental health first aid may look like
Some people still struggle to talk about mental health but it’s something that costs UK employers an estimated £34.9 billion each year.  The benefits of having members of your team trained in Mental Health First Aid and being able to spot the early signs means they will be able to support your workforce and potentially be able to save you 30% or more of the costs involved in sick leave and reduced productivity.

 

What is mental health first aid?

Mental health first aid is an important skill that enables someone to provide initial support to someone experiencing a mental health crisis or developing a mental health problem. Just as we learn first aid to help others in physical emergencies, mental health first aid gives us the tools we need to be able to provide proper support and assistance to those struggling with their mental well-being. It’s also a really good way to promote mental health awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Mental health first aid involves recognising the signs and symptoms of common mental health problems, offering non-judgmental support, and guiding individuals towards suitable professional help.

The importance of mental health first aid training

Taking a mental health first aid course helps us develop the skills and knowledge to recognise those all important warning signs of mental health issues. By being aware of these signs, we can intervene early and try to prevent the problem from becoming a crisis. On top of this, mental health first aid training equips us with strategies to provide immediate support and assistance until professional help is available.  It teaches us to approach mental health with compassion, understanding, and empathy, creating a supportive environment for mental well-being. 

Understanding mental health first aid certification

Our 2-day Mental Health First Aid Training Course is a fully accredited training course and is valid for three years.  Accreditation not only shows your organisation’s commitment to mental health advocacy, it also gives delegates a sense of confidence and empowerment – they know that they have learned the necessary skills to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

What you’ll learn in a mental health first aid course

A mental health first aid course covers a wide range of topics aimed at giving people  a deeper knowledge of common mental health concerns and learning effective ways to offer guidance and support towards professional assistance.

  • Understanding the importance of mental health
  • The roles and responsibilities of a mental health first aider in the workplace
  • The importance of own wellbeing as a mental health first aider
  • Common mental health conditions, including:
    • Characteristics and features
    • Work-related stress
    • Anxiety
    • Eating disorders
    • Depression
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
    • Phobias
    • Bipolar
    • Self-harm
    • Psychosis
    • Suicide
  • Promoting positive mental health first aid in the workplace
    • Best practice for employers
    • Mental health first aid at work action plan
    • Appropriate coping strategies
  • How employers can provide support to employees in the workplace
    • Assisting those off work or returning to work
    • Procedures to support employees who are off work whilst experiencing poor mental health
  •  Types of support available both locally and nationally

Course delegates  learn how to approach someone in crisis, offer immediate support, and encourage them to seek professional help using effective communication and active listening skills.

Mental health first aid courses also focus on the importance of self-care and resilience for both the mental health first aider and the person in crisis. 

Mental health first aid can make a significant difference in the lives of people experiencing problems with their mental health. By providing early intervention and support, mental health first aiders can often help prevent crises from escalating and promote recovery.

Mental health first aid in the workplace

Most adults spend at least a third of their time at work.  Add five hours of commuting time to that (or 8 hours for us Londoners), we spend almost as much of our waking time with our colleagues as we do our families and friends which only goes to strengthen the argument for mental health first aid in the workplace.  By recognising the impact of mental health on employee well-being and productivity, a lot of companies have found that they can reduce the impact on productivity by averting a mental health crisis and signposting to support services early on.  Being open and talking about mental well-being also fosters a culture of empathy and support, encouraging open conversations, reducing the stigma, and promoting a safe space where employees feel comfortable asking for help.

Mental health first aid for schools and universities

Schools and universities are environments where mental health issues have a huge impact on students’ well-being and academic performance.

On top of the benefits we have already talked about, having mental health first aiders in education promotes mental health literacy among students, teachers, and staff and helps students develop resilience and coping skills.

Becoming a mental health first aider

If you’re interested in becoming a mental health first aider,  we currently have two training courses available:

This 2-day training course will give you a deeper understanding of the issues that can impactmental health and teach you the practical skills to spot the signs, essential communication and listening skills, and the confidence to signpost someone to support services.  This Mental Health First Aid course is fully accredited and lasts for three years.

This bespoke course caters to the specific requirements of your school or educational establishment. Topics can be tailored exactly to your needs.  It aims to provide your team with  knowledge and insights needed to be able to support adolescents with some of the more common mental health concerns. 

Mental health first aid is invaluable. It’s not just about helping others, it’s also about taking care of yourself.

Whatever your reasons for choosing a mental health first aid course, take the first step towards preparedness with the wide range of training available at STS First Aid.

If you came across this article and are worried about your mental health or someone you know, there are organisations that can provide support.  

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