I was talking to someone a few months ago who had just started their Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England course. They were telling me how much they learned and what a powerful tool it was for their learning experience.

Having worked for years in many stressful environments I have witnessed and reported some behaviour that needed to be addressed so that support mechanisms were in place. So embarking on this course I was able to dig deep into this really important issue for all.

I was excited to start this course and am pleased to say that I have passed and am now can add Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) to my skills to support all my clients, colleagues, family, and friends.

This is such an important aspect of all our daily lives and especially in the workplace. This course explored the definitions of mental health and mental ill health and very importantly the mental health continuum. Understanding the factors inside and outside the working environment and the effects on physical as well as mental health is vital to see the early signs and to support someone with long-term conditions.

There are so many different types of mental ill-health and they can be heavily interwoven, so recognising the signs and indicators is vital when dealing with mental health situations. Knowing who to call upon, when and how, how to avoid confrontation, and to always encourage and avoid confrontation are skills that are vital in handling and talking about difficult situations.

Ensuring that your workplace has a positive attitude to mental health is important for prevention and also the communication around mental health must be effective, open, and clear. Being an active listener is crucial to ensure trust, patience, empathy & genuine interest. All these aspects help to build flexibility, appreciation, acceptance, respect, reciprocation, room for individuals, and the ability to solve conflicts amicably.

Having Mental First Aiders in your workplace who understand all of this and can provide supportive early intervention and short and long term support is essential, remembering that all employees have a duty of care to their colleagues, with management taking mental health seriously and providing an open space to discuss and solve issues.

As well as supporting individuals with their mental health it is vital that the ongoing support in their recovery is given so that they build resilience to cope with stresses and strains of everyday life and have goals to reach and skills that support them in this journey.

People need to feel connected, have hope, an identity, have meaning and purpose, and feel empowered in a workplace that supports this will help to build resilience to mental health issues and provide a supportive workplace and network.

Person-centred care at the core and the right approaches to Mental Health ensure that people are the focus and they are treated with dignity & respect.

Key takeaways for a Mental Health first aider are;

You can identify key signs

Talk to Individuals and provide support 

Listen to the Individual

Assess the risks adequately

Encourage the individual to seek help

Contact emergency services if necessary 

Maintain appropriate levels of confidentiality

Ensure the relevant documentation is completed for workplace records, especially if there is an emergency.

Most of all the Mental Health First Aider must ensure that they protect themsleves and keep themselves physically and mentally well in order to fulfill this role.

If you want to know more take a look at the Mental First Aid England website