Mental health issues affect one in every six people in the workplace. As a result, many businesses have implemented programs to assist employees by teaching them Mental Health First Aid (MHFA).
With a rise in demand for MHFA training, it’s vital to understand what it is and how it can benefit the workplace.
What is Mental Health First Aid?
Mental Health First Aid is a training program that teaches members of the public how to help a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem, or in a mental health crisis. The first aider assesses the situation and provides support until the problem is resolved or a professional is available to treat the person.
People trained in MFHA learn how to deal with mental health problems and spot the early signs of mental illness, allowing them to tackle the problem sooner rather than later.
What are the functions of a Mental Health First Aider?
There are many roles for mental health first aiders at work. These include, but are not limited to:
- Identifying when someone is experiencing a mental health problem or crisis
- Providing initial support
- Encouraging the person to seek appropriate professional help
- Listening without judgment
- Encouraging positive mental wellbeing
- Giving reassurance and encouragement
- Offering practical help and support where appropriate
- Helping to build trust between the employee and the employer, creating a more neutral and safe space to talk about mental health more openly
Why is Mental Health First Aid important in the workplace?
Mental Health First Aid doesn’t only benefit those living with a mental illness. It also lessens the adverse effects of mental illness in the workplace.
The effect of mental illnesses in the workplace
18.3% of US adults over 18 have a reported mental illness, with an extra 71% of adults reporting at least one symptom of stress (headache, feeling anxious, etc.).
This not only has a huge negative impact on employee health and happiness but also affects employers, customers, clients, and co-workers.
Without being identified and dealt with, mental health problems can lead to:
- Higher rates of absenteeism
- Presenteeism (being at work but not being productive)
- Lower quality of work
- More accidents and errors
- Increased staff turnover
- Lower team morale
To avoid these problems, employers should do everything in their power to support employees, including offering MHFA.
A 2021 report by the Centers for Disease Control found that businesses spend over $15,000 on average annually on each employee experiencing mental health issues. If these problems were acknowledged and dealt with, these organizations would be saving money instead of losing it.
The effect of Mental Health First Aid on employees
While the benefits of MHFA for businesses are clear, it’s also important to look at how it benefits employees.
Mental Health First Aid Training can:
- Help employees feel more comfortable talking about their mental health.
- Encourage employees to seek help sooner rather than later.
- Provide employees with the skills and confidence to support their co-workers.
- Help employees feel more supported and understood.
MHFA training can also help break down the stigma attached to mental illness, encouraging employees to seek help without feeling ashamed or embarrassed.
By providing a safe and supportive environment, mental health first aiders allow employees to feel comfortable opening up about their mental health, leading to earlier diagnosis and treatment. This is important because the sooner individuals receive treatment for a mental illness, the more likely they are to make a full recovery, and the less likely it is to negatively affect their lives in the long run.
In conclusion, Mental Health First Aid is vital in the workplace, as it benefits those experiencing mental health problems and limits the adverse effects of mental illness in the workplace. MHFA training increases knowledge and confidence in dealing with mental health problems, leading to increased workplace satisfaction.
Additionally, mental health first aiders help break down the stigma attached to mental illness, leading to earlier diagnosis and treatment and sparing employees unwarranted feelings of embarrassment.
About the Author: Founder and CEO of Thriiver, Lawrence Howard started the company back in1997 as a result of years of personal experience with a lack of access to support and solutions for his dyslexia. Lawrence is passionate about helping people with disabilities and believes that by putting the right tools in place, people’s abilities can flourish.
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The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.
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