Why Mental Health First Aid Should Be Your Next Business Investment Mental health is never far from the headlines – and with good reason.
Figures from the mental health charity, Mind show that as many as one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year. Anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are among the most
common mental health problems.
However, despite its prevalence, mental health is often not considered as something in need of ‘first aid’. It usually conjures up images of a small green box you’d typically find in your bathroom cabinet or on the office wall.
Mental health first aid is just as important as having various plasters, gauzes and antiseptic creams to hand – and if not more so. For employers, it is well worth investing in. Not least for the improvements it can bring to general wellbeing in the workplace, but also a company’s bottom line.
In the first of our series of blogs we’ll consider exactly what mental health first aid is, and why it is something that you as a business owner cannot afford to overlook.
What Is Mental Health First Aid?
Mental health first aid works in much the same way as physical first aid. It’s a course that offers professional advice on how to identify and understand mental health issues. This is applicable to people who are developing a mental health problem or who are already suffering. The idea is that steps can be taken at an early stage to prevent a situation from getting worse.
In the UK, the training remains at the discretion of managers. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises that it “cannot tell you what provision you should make for first aid”. It needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
In respect of mental health, the HSE states:
“You should consider ways to manage mental ill health in your workplace which are appropriate for your business, such as providing information or training for managers and employees, employing occupational health professionals, appointing mental health trained first aiders and implementing employee support
programmes.” Why Is Mental Health First Aid So Important?
Mental health in the workplace should be treated with the same priority as physical wellbeing. It is a growing problem across UK businesses, making it more critical than ever to take action.
However, this might not be something that comes easy to employers. A CBI survey found that 71% are reluctant to take action because they are unclear on what strategies are most effective. They also haven’t seen the benefits for others that have invested in workplace health and
Gaining an understanding of employees’ wellbeing is essential if they are going to fulfil their potential at work. Simply assuming that everyone is ‘ticking along just fine’ is no longer an option for managers, especially now mental health is not the taboo subject it once was.
Mental health first aid is just one of the tools that managers have at their disposal. It’s a proactive, interactive way of creating a culture of openness that so many people have come to expect.
Why does an open mental health culture matter and what benefits does mental health first aid bring to your business? For the answers to these questions and more, make sure you tune into part 2 of our blog series.