Guest blog: Become a Mental Health First Aider

One in four adults will experience mental health issues in an average year1.  But the last year has been anything but average and the figures have almost doubled since the start of the pandemic2.

The last year has been particularly hard on those working in caring professions.  Three quarters of careworkers say that their work during the pandemic has had a serious negative impact on their mental health3.  Careworkers report anxiety levels 44% per cent higher than other employees3.  And even more worryingly, careworkers mental health has continued to decline as the pandemic has progressed3.  Even before the pandemic careworkers had a suicide risk almost twice that of the national average4.

The pandemic has highlighted mental health and there is an increasing focus on it, but there is still stigma.  Over half of all working days lost to sickness are mental health related5.  But 84% of employees still do not feel able to disclose a mental health issue at work6.  Although 69% of UK line managers say that supporting employee wellbeing is a core skill, only 13% have received any mental health training7.

Careworkers provide a vital support service.  Mental health conditions are common in people who need care, but can sometimes be mistaken for a normal part of the aging process.  With the right training, carers can learn to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and guide the person to appropriate professional help where necessary.  Early recognition and treatment can prevent someone from developing more serious and long-term mental health problems.  

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Just like we all have physical health, we all have mental health.  Both are intertwined. Our mental health affects our physical health and our physical health affects our mental health.

Physical First Aid is a vital skill and most workplaces are required to have Physical First Aiders.  Mental Health First Aid skills are just as vital and you’re actually much more likely to come across someone with suicidal thoughts than someone having a heart attack. But would you know how to help?

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised training course which teaches you how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first aid basis.  MHFA training won’t teach you to be a therapist, but just like physical first aid, it will teach you to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis.

The training covers common mental health conditions including anxiety disorders, depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and self-harm.  It encourages people to challenge the language we use around mental health and the stigma attached to it. It explores the risk factors for poor mental health and how to spot the signs.

As well as teaching you how to look after other people, it also helps you look after your own mental health and wellbeing. Self-care is such an important part of being a carer.  How can we expect to be of help to others when we ourselves suffering?  The strategies we learn to support others in MHFA can also be used to support ourselves.


All About The Mind deliver a range of MHFA England accredited training courses including Mental Health First Aid, Mental Health Champion and Mental Health Aware (a half day introductory course).

For more information, please visit https://allaboutthemind.com/

“Prior to attending the course, I had heard a lot about the illnesses surrounding mental health. However, I had no useful or real knowledge of the way these conditions present themselves, let alone how to deal with someone experiencing these.

I now have a better understanding and the skills to enable me to ask the right questions, to hopefully help and be able to spot triggers and signs of any issues.

I believe my listening skills will be much improved and I have a knowledge of how to find help, and be able to pass this information on to assist with the correct line of support.

In my job role I see people suffer stress, anxiety and depression and I now feel more confident in trying to support anyone who is seeking help.” – Julie, The Homecare People


All About The Mind deliver a range of MHFA England accredited training courses including Mental Health First Aid, Mental Health Champion and Mental Health Aware (a half day introductory course).

For more information, please visit https://allaboutthemind.com/


References

  1. Mental Health Taskforce NE. The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. 2016 [cited 2017 May 23]; Available from: england.nhs.uk
  2. Mental Health Foundation. Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic Study. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/research/coronavirus-mental-health-pandemic
  3. GMB Care Survey. https://www.gmb.org.uk/news/three-quarters-care-workers-mental-health-has-worsened-during-pandemic
  4. ONS. Suicide by occupation, England: 2011 to 2015 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/suicidebyoccupation/england2011to2015
  5. Health and Safety Executive. Work-related Stress, Depression or Anxiety Statistics in Great Britain 2019 [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2020 Jan 6]. Available from: hse.gov.uk
  6. Mental Health at Work. https://www.mhaw.uk.com/
  7. Business in the Community. Mental Health at Work 2019: Time To Take Ownership [Internet]. 2019. Available from: wellbeing.bitc.org.uk