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The benefits of mental health first aid training for your employees

No matter how big or established your business is, you should make it a priority this year to offer mental health first aid training to your employees. The benefits it'll bring your business will make you wish you'd done it sooner. Read on to understand why.

The history of mental health first aid

We've come a long way as a nation in understanding and supporting good mental health. Just a few decades ago, mental health was not something that was even considered in the workplace; you were either physically well enough to come into the office and work, or you weren't.

Then five years ago came the introduction of mental health first aiders in the workplace. It only really happened in big corporations who had shareholders and CSR targets to meet, and there weren't many in each company; just a few trained employees that colleagues could call upon for confidential conversations and support when needed. The impact it made within those businesses however, showed that mental health first aid is something that everyone should have access to. But how do you deliver this? You make mental health first aid training far more available too.

What is mental health first aid?

Mental health is still often viewed as a taboo topic, but it's something everyone should be talking about. The mental health of your employees is just as important as their physical health, because it can affect:

· productivity and quality of work

· presenteeism rates

· communication and collaboration

· work-life balance

· long term general health

· and much, much more.

Mental health first aid is a way of recognising mental health issues in the workplace, and providing help to those who might be struggling. It's about creating an environment where concerns can be openly discussed, without fear or judgement, and offering resources that can help those individuals or teams get back on track.

While psychologists and therapists were once the only source of support for mental health issues, particularly when a problem has become quite advanced, the ability to now provide a more accessible and affordable option within the workplace ensures that issues are dealt with quickly.

How mental health first aid training works

Mental health first aid training is typically a two-day course which covers topics such as:

• Identifying signs and symptoms of common mental health issues

• Promoting effective communication on mental health

• Techniques for dealing with stress in the workplace

• Strategies for providing support to those experiencing mental illness.

With this training, you equip your workforce with the skills to offer meaningful support when a person experiences a mental health problem and details of where to locate valuable resources including crisis line numbers, local mental health services contacts, or employee assistance programmes.

What if you can’t afford to send everyone off on a two day course

We recommend that every company, no matter how small, has at least one individual who is trained in mental health first aid, and, due to the sensitivities around mental health, it’s important that training in that form of first aid is in-depth and delivered by a qualified company or coach.

That being said, there are ways of equipping the rest of your workforce with some level of mental health first aid so that they can still recognise when a colleague is struggling and know what to say to offer support. For example, courses from providers such as DevelopMental UK last only half a day and train individuals on how to speak to someone sensitively about their grief or anxiety.

Why it's important to have mentally healthy employees in the workplace

We touched on this briefly earlier but healthy employees are essential for any business or organisation to operate effectively and efficiently.

When employees have good mental health, they have increased energy, enthusiasm, focus, productivity, and morale - all of which can benefit their environment. Having a mentally healthy workforce also contributes to a positive office culture, increased resiliency amongst staff, and higher job satisfaction as well. Ultimately, mental health first aid training has the potential to help each individual stay on track mentally, and make sure that everyone is feeling supported no matter what challenges arise in their everyday lives.

But it's not just at work that mental health first aid knowledge can be put to great use.

How mental health first aid training helps your employees in their everyday lives

Mental health first aid training can also help in the recognition of unhealthy behaviours outside of a working environment

For example, if an employee’s family member or close friend is experiencing a mental health issue, they will know where to turn for help and support on their behalf. They can also use the skills they’ve learned to help identify signs of mental ill health in those closest to them, and feel more confident in providing advice or support if necessary.

How can you find a mental health first aid trainer for your employees?

Finding a mental health first aid trainer for your employees is easier than it may seem.

Start with doing an online search to find any local trainers that match your criteria. Once you have found a few potential trainers, make sure they have the necessary accreditations to teach mental health first aid before interviewing them and making your final selection.

Asking to view training materials and speaking with past trainees can also help you understand what the experience will be like for your employees.

Though it may seem like providing mental health first aid training to your workforce would be an expensive and time-consuming endeavour, there are actually many benefits to doing so. Not only will you reduce the amount of days your employees take off due to mental health issues, but you'll also see an increase in their productivity and engagement. And of course, there's the benefit of showing your employees that you care about their wellbeing.

If you're looking for further support in building a happy and productive team, look no further than Lodge Court. We offer a full range of services and can tailor packages to your needs. Contact us today to learn more.

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