What Is a Mental Health First Aider: Everything You Need to Know

Mental health is an essential aspect of everyone’s wellbeing, and it’s just as important as physical health. Anyone can suffer from mental health problems, at any age, in any profession. It is essential for organisations to ensure their staff are adequately supported. This is where first aid for mental health and mental health first aiders can come in.

This article will explore what an MHFAider is, the role they play within organisations and how they can help manage issues with mental health in the workplace.

What Is a Mental Health First Aider?

Mental health first aiders are trained to provide initial support to people experiencing emotional distress or mental health issues. These individuals are equipped with the necessary knowledge about mental health. They have the skills to identify the symptoms and signs of mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and substance use disorder.

MHFAiders play an essential role in promoting early intervention for someone who may be struggling with poor mental health. They help bridge the gap between those who need help and professional care by offering immediate support until they can get appropriate professional treatment. MHFAiders can be found in various settings such as schools, workplaces and community centres.

What Does a Mental Health First Aider Do?

An individual who is an MHFAider:

  • Recognises signs or symptoms of common mental health problems
  • Provides help to those who self-harm
  • Offers guidance on how to approach someone in distress, actively listen without judgment and offer support until appropriate professional help can be accessed
  • Is trained to manage crises while creating an environment that promotes safety and recovery

What Are the Responsibilities of a Mental Health First Aider?

Two women sitting on chair and talking

Any person can experience a mental health crisis anytime, at any place. That’s why it’s essential to have mental health first aiders trained and ready to provide appropriate support when it’s needed most and prevent worsening mental health.

But what exactly are the responsibilities of a MHFAider? Here are some of them:

Identifying early signs of mental health conditions

One of the most essential responsibilities of an MHFAider is to be able to identify early signs and symptoms of mental health issues. This can be a challenging task, as mental health conditions can often present in subtle or unexpected ways.

However, by staying attuned to changes in behavior, mood and overall wellbeing, MHFAiders can help identify potential issues with mental health early on. This can be crucial in providing timely support and intervention, which can help prevent more serious mental health issues from developing.

Creating a supportive environment

Creating a supportive environment involves creating a safe and non-judgmental space where individuals feel comfortable talking about their mental health concerns.

As a point of contact for colleagues, MHFAiders must be empathetic, understanding and non-judgmental when dealing with issues with mental health. This can involve actively listening to their concerns, providing emotional support and offering practical guidance on how to access mental health resources.

Assisting someone in finding the appropriate help

Tired young man and touching his forhead

One of the key responsibilities of an MHFAider is to assist someone in finding the appropriate help for their mental health needs. This can involve guiding them through the process of seeking professional help, providing information on available resources and support and helping them navigate the mental healthcare system.

By assisting someone in finding the appropriate help, MHFAiders can play a crucial role in helping individuals access the support they need to improve their mental health.

Respecting confidentiality

As MHFAiders are the first point of contact for individuals seeking mental health support, it is imperative that they create a safe and confidential space where individuals can share their thoughts and feelings.

Maintaining confidentiality as appropriate is essential since it helps build trust between individuals seeking help and the support system available, which in turn encourages more people to reach out for assistance when needed.

Assuring their own safety while performing their duties

While MHFAiders are able to support to others, they should also priorities their own state of being. The nature of this role can be emotionally taxing and may require dealing with sensitive or potentially triggering situations.

To protect themselves from burnout or other negative effects, it is crucial that they establish boundaries and set limits. It’s essential to recognise when they need time off or additional resources so that they can continue providing effective care for those in need.

Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace

Awareness of mental health in the workplace is becoming increasingly important. It is essential for employers to recognise that mental health affects employees’ performance, productivity and overall wellbeing.

A healthy work environment promotes better communication between colleagues and fosters a culture of acceptance where everyone feels valued regardless of their mental health status. As such, creating a mentally healthy workplace should be a top priority for all organisations.

One of the most effective ways organisations can address mental health awareness in the workplace is by appointing MHFAiders.

What’s the Role of a Mental Health First Aider in the Workplace?

MHFAiders play an essential role in the workplace. They help tackle the stigma surrounding mental health issues by facilitating conversations about mental health. Their presence promotes an open dialogue about mental health, which can lead to increased understanding and empathy towards those struggling with their mental state. They also help create a culture where employees feel safe and supported in seeking help when they need it.

Incorporating MHFAiders into the workplace is an essential step towards creating a mentally healthy environment for employees. By prioritising employee wellbeing through initiatives such as this, employers not only improve overall job satisfaction but also reduce healthcare costs associated with untreated psychological distress.

MHFAider in the Workplace: Should It Be Mandatory?

Mental health first aid at work can make a significant difference in supporting employees who may be struggling with mental health issues. With workplace mental health training, individuals are trained to identify mental health problems, as well as provide initial support and guidance. They are a vital link between someone experiencing mental health problems and the appropriate resources.

While it is not currently mandatory for workplaces to have mental health first aiders, providing proactive support to employees has its benefits. For instance, it would ensure that all employees could access support whenever they needed it. This type of support can prevent issues from escalating and improve overall state of being.

How Do I Become a Mental Health First Aider?

The first step towards becoming a mental health first aider is to complete a mental health first aid training program. The goal of the training course is to give you the tools and knowledge necessary to offer initial support and referral options for someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

The length of an MHFA course can vary but generally range from 8-16 hours. Some MHFA courses may be offered in person, while others are available online.

Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace: FAQs

Women collaborating, discussing in the office during daytime

Who should do a mental health first aid class?

An MHFA training course is not just for healthcare professionals. In fact, anyone can benefit from taking a mental health first aid class, especially those who are in the workplace. It is recommended that managers, human resources personnel and supervisors take an MHFA course to help them provide support to employees and colleagues when needed.

Why is mental health awareness important in the workplace?

Investing in employee mental health is beneficial not only for individuals but also for organisations as a whole. By prioritising mental wellness and creating a culture of acceptance and support, companies foster happier and healthier teams that perform better both individually and collectively. This also creates an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns.

What can I expect from an MHFAider?

An MHFAider can provide initial assistance to those in crisis or struggling with their mental health. They can help break down stigmas surrounding mental health by promoting open communication about these topics in the workplace. Additionally, they can direct people towards appropriate resources for further assistance.

Join the Movement: Become an MHFAider with EDP

If you’re interested in becoming an MHFAider, EDP Training offers a range of mental health first aid courses that can assist you in providing effective mental health support. Book an MHFA course today!