We are all becoming more conscious of the issues and concern over mental health. Members of the royal family, football players and film stars are all helping to raise the awareness of this important issue. They are encouraging people to be more open and seek help. As much as we are told to take care of our physical health, we are now being told to realise that our mental health is equally as important. Many things can place us in a negative mental state both in our personal and professional lives and sometimes it is difficult to discuss how these things can be affecting us, especially if our jobs are in an industry where it is seen as a sign of weakness to express our emotions freely. Industries throughout the UK are realising that this issue needs to be addressed and can bring many benefits not only to the individual but to companies as a whole.
One approach that is being adopted in the workplace is now providing mental health first aid just like we have physical first aid. In most companies there are people who have been trained in first aid to administer initial aid if someone has had an accident. Now there is a similar scheme available for people to train as Mental Health First Aiders to help those in the company who may be struggling with their mental health. One such company that has adopted this is e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management [e2e].
Understanding the importance of having Mental Health First Aiders, e2e with the assistance of the St John Ambulance, now have designated staff to help those who may be requiring help and assistance.
One of the first e2e members of staff that became qualified was Emma Smith. Emma told us that the two-day interactive course she undertook with St John Ambulance was eye opening as to how mental health can affect people from all walks of life and can manifest in many different ways, but upon completion of the course Emma now feels confident to assist anyone who asks for help.
On the course, Emma gained a comprehensive understanding of what mental health is and what factors can affect wellbeing. She was taught to understand the stigma that surrounds mental health and learnt practical skills to spot the signs of a mental health issue, giving her the conﬁdence to step in and support a person who needs assistance Interactive sessions in learning how to listen to individuals, assess their needs and help signpost them to find the help they require reinforced these new skills, along with understanding the importance of trust and how to make people know that any problem, no matter how small, was treated in confidence.
Furthermore, Emma explained that those taking the course were made to realise that ongoing support was important and although they might be the first port of call for someone asking for assistance, there was an important role to make sure that they, as the mental health first aider, were always available as the individual recovered. Emma then went on to say that the course facilitators realise the importance of the role she would be taking on and how some of the issues she could face may affect her. The course provides support for the mental aid first aiders through enabling them to be aware of their own mental health. Emma added that as several people in her company had also completed the course. she now has a group of people who can help her deal with the challenges she may have to face.
Neil Joslin, Chief Operating Officer, at e2e said “Our learning of mental health is increasing all of the time. We take the mental health of our employees very seriously. We want to understand the pressures that they have to face at work and maybe out of work which may affect them. This is the first step and we want to create a network of mental first aiders.
We are committed to working closely with all of our employees and providing a safe and enjoyable working environment for them.”
The St John Ambulance Mental Health First Aid suite of courses are available to any company or employer who wish to provide mental first aiders Deborah Adwent, Operations Manager Mental Health First Aid at St John Ambulance, said:
“Mental ill health is a national issue, affecting both businesses and employees. We urge employers to take the mental health and wellbeing of their workforce seriously. If not handled well, stress and mental health issues go on to have a serious impact on people in their work as well as private lives. As the country’s leading general first aid trainer, we’ve decided to take a lead in helping employers and their staff take care of mental health too. Mental health training has been proven to make a lasting difference in people’s knowledge and confidence around mental health. Research suggests that improving UK workplace mental health management could reduce employers’ losses attributed to mental illness by 30%, collectively saving £8 billion a year. The course teaches people how to watch over their own mental health as well as that of others. It’s only the first part of a solution but it’s an excellent start.”
At the moment e2e have three members of staff who are qualified to provide mental first aid. Below is what they have to say about the importance of the role they play:
“I chose to do this training because it’s something that I’m passionate about. I was already being approached by friends and family who have felt the need for support and I think this is because in the past I was open about my own experiences when suffering with poor mental health. I wanted to be confident that whatever I say or do in these situations is the right thing. I also wanted to be aware of the signs of someone who is struggling who might not feel comfortable speaking out as people often isolate themselves and feel embarrassed or judged. I thought it was a brilliant idea to get Mental Health First Aiders in the workplace as staff knowing there is someone there to listen non judgementally can make a huge difference to how long someone might suffer in silence. I feel really proud that work has recognised this is an issue because unfortunately many still try and avoid it.
The course itself was an eye opener, there were a lot of difficult things discussed and so much to learn and understand but it left me feeling confident that I am aware of signs to look out for in people who may be struggling and how to approach them. I felt really proud to be there and proud to be from a company who is taking these issues seriously. Society needs to lose the stigma attached to ill Mental Health and its small steps like this that help towards making a big difference.”
“I was honoured that e2e gave me a great opportunity to attend the Mental Health First Aider Course. I am proud that the business recognises that there is a need to improve our understanding of mental health awareness and take positive steps to remove stigma, promote good mental health in removing discrimination and encouraging conversations about all aspects of mental health including stress, anxiety and depression to name a few. I am looking forward to sharing the knowledge and information I have gained on the course along with my own personal experiences and help to promote wellbeing within the workplace. To be able to identify any early warning signs of any person needing help and offer non-judgemental conversation and support until professional assistance is available. I believe our new business values will support and form good foundations for us to take mental health awareness forward within our workplace and help in keeping well-being for every individual in the forefront of our minds.”
“When the opportunity came for me to become a Mental Health First Aider, I was grateful that e2e had considered me to be a part of it. I am proud that e2e are wanting to have more of an understanding about mental health and that there needs to be more awareness raised. The MHFA course opened my eyes on how mental health affects people in different ways. I am looking forward to applying what I have learned on the course alongside my personal experiences. The reason for me wanting to take part in the Mental Health First Aider course was so that I can promote wellbeing within the office and offer a non-judgemental conversation and support until professional help is available.”
The understanding of mental health and its importance is growing. By providing such first aid can bring many benefits and can play a very important role in helping individuals deal with a distressing time in their lives. We hope more companies approach the St John Ambulance to discuss how more Mental Health First Aiders can be found throughout our industry.
To find out more please visit St John Ambulance