What is Mental Health First Aid and how can it benefit the workplace?

what is mental health first aid

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is designed to teach people how to identify and respond to signs of mental illnesses or mental health crises. These courses have been revolutionary in that they treat mental health concerns the way first responders provide support during emergencies.  Not only do they offer a strong foundation for recognising people in need of support, they provide participants with the skills needed to reach out and offer initial help to someone.

Because of this, MHFA courses can be incredibly beneficial to employees and their workplaces. Each year, about 1 in 5 people face mental health challenges, and almost 50% of us will experience it at some point in our lives. On top of that, we all spend approximately a third of our lives at work. Being surrounded by people prepared to support us in those difficult times can mean getting help in those moments when we need it most.

What are the key messages of mental health first aid?

There are different types of MHFA training in Australia, from skills-based to specialised courses targeting specific groups. While each course is designed to address varying groups or situations, they all emphasise these four key messages to ensure a consistent and effective approach to mental health first aid.

Intervene early

Early intervention is crucial in ensuring a speedy recovery of individuals struggling with mental health. By addressing the issues at their onset, these persons can return faster to their normal state of wellbeing, reducing the duration and intensity of their symptoms. Hence, MHFA promotes the need to intervene early.

Provide skills

Broaching the subject of mental health requires a specific skill set to ensure that the conversation is both effective and empathetic. This is why MHFA equips individuals with the skills to create a safe environment where people feel comfortable discussing their mental health challenges, even in the workplace.

Respond in crisis

Responding promptly and effectively when someone is at risk of harm is vital. Crises can be intense and unpredictable, and having a structured approach can make a significant difference in the outcome.

Reduce stigma

Stigma surrounding mental health concerns can be a significant barrier for those seeking help or acknowledging their struggles. By actively working to reduce this stigma and bolstering support through MHFA, we can foster a community where mental well-being is prioritised.

Why is MHFA training good for workplaces?

Risk management

MHFA training is effective for risk management because it provides a proactive approach to addressing mental health in the workplace. By equipping workers with the skills to identify early signs of mental health issues, your team can reach out and offer support before these issues escalate. This not only promotes a safer working environment but also aligns with health and safety regulations.

Enhanced employee wellbeing

According to recent studies, almost seven out of ten workers prioritise their mental health over career goals, meaning they would rather stay where they are professionally than climb the corporate ladder where the culture is “always on.”

These statistics emphasise how much mental wellbeing matters for modern-day workers, and because of this, implementing an MHFA course in your workplace sends a clear message.  It shows that you prioritise and support the mental wellbeing of your team. This can potentially improve workplace culture, enhance overall job satisfaction, and let your team know how much you value them.

Improved productivity

Workers who feel valued and supported are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and committed to their roles. This translates into improved productivity, higher presenteeism and lower turnover rates. The costs associated with hiring and training new team members can be substantial, so retaining talent is both a financial and operational advantage.

So, by extension, MHFA courses are an excellent investment in a business sense in addition to the returns you will see in supporting your team’s mental health and wellbeing.

Better workplace culture

Integrating MHFA training into the workplace promotes a culture where discussions around mental health are normalised. This open dialogue encourages honest communication among your team members, strengthening team dynamics.

Also, when team members are trained to support and understand each other’s mental health challenges, they may develop a more profound sense of camaraderie and mutual respect.

Implement MHFA with Bodycare

Bodycare offers comprehensive MHFA courses customised to meet the needs of workplaces across all industries. We have online MHFA courses and public MHFA courses available in different locations, as well as mental health seminars for your workplace. Contact Bodycare for more information today.