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The fear of not saying the right thing and the value of having a Mental Health First Aider in your business

Along with a colleague I undertook the 2 day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course in June and I’d like to feedback in the hope it might persuade others to invest in this for their business.

Calls to ProAktive’s HR Team asking for help in managing employees experiencing mental health issues have been on the increase in recent months. Combining that with ProAktive’s own commitment to wellbeing, this seemed like a worthwhile investment of time and cost.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that in any one year, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health challenge, but I was!  1 person in 15 will attempt to take their own life at some point and suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged between 20 and 49 in England. Shocking –so be prepared for more of those facts and some disturbing stories.

The course didn’t enable me to diagnose and counsel anyone, (that’s not the point) but it did provide me with a great all round knowledge of some of the common conditions, how to recognise them and what to do in a crisis or simply to help someone experiencing poor mental health.

I came away better informed and more importantly more confident that I am equipped to help in exactly the same way as a first aider would have traditionally with physical health.

The MHFA course advocates using a simple step by step approach. I feel more able to start a conversation, to listen, to reassure and to guide an individual to get professional help and support.

Experiencing poor mental health can affect your ability to work but people still worry about the stigma and find it difficult to talk about. Small changes in the working environment, or being a little more understanding and supportive, can make a huge difference and can help individuals to manage their own mental health ups and downs and be a healthy, happy and productive employee.

Having a certified MHFA in your workplace is a great first step in the right direction and we may see in the future that this becomes a requirement (just as it is with traditional first aiders in your business).

There are many providers out there and various courses on offer, so if you want to know more about my experience please feel free to get in touch.

By Angela Stancer ACIIHR Manager




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