Before I start, I want you to know, this is not me slating another organisation or what they’re doing to help with regards to mental illness.
This is an honest piece which talks about the benefits of mental health first aid training, but also highlights how for some organisations it just isn’t the right fit.
Let’s be honest, there’s never a one size fits all approach to anything in life and supporting your employees to be fit, healthy and mentally well is no different.
Mental health first aid training is designed to help you (and your employees) develop a basic understanding of mental illness.
You learn about; depression, anxiety, personality disorders, eating disorders, self-harm, psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
They’ll even talk to you about suicide and people in crisis.
Anyone who completes the training receives a certificate and becomes a Mental Health First Aider (Remploy).
Sounds fabulous doesn’t it?
Now, here’s the rub…
Unlike a ‘physical first aid’ course where you learn how to deal with:
You don’t actually learn how to manage someone with a mental illness…
In fact, they clearly state the Mental Health First Aid Training ‘Promotes early intervention which enables recovery MHFA won’t teach you how to be a therapist, but you will be able to say you’re a Mental Health First Aider.’
Now, don’t get me wrong, I 100% agree, teaching someone to be a therapist in a 2 day course is bonkers and not something anyone really expects.
But, you’d at least hope you learn some basic therapeutic techniques so that you are able to effectively support somone who is struggling while they’re in work.
If you are taught to not only zap someone with an electrical current and carry out CPR on someone who’s ‘unresponsive’ to get them back to life, learning how to safely do a guided meditation with someone who’s having a panic attack seems like a fair estimation.
It’s because of this that in my opinion (and the opinion of past clients…) that sometimes the Mental Health First Aid course is not the best fit for their organisation.
Being able to safely identify, understand and manage mental illness in your workplace is not just a ‘nice-to-do’ it’s a legal requirement.
There are plenty of places you can go to get physical first aid training which helps you stay legally compliant, but actual mental health training which enables to effectively support someone who’s struggling with their mental health, well, that is a lot harder to find.
In all honesty, it’s the reason we created our training package.
We know that for most employees who are struggling with stress, depression and/or anxiety, being supported to stay in work is actually more beneficial (see one of our other blog posts: Should An Employee Stay At Home When They’re Struggling With Their Mental Health? to find out more).
& in all honesty, understanding and dealing with things like schizophrenia, bipolar, personality disorders and psychosis is something that only the most skilled mental health professional does so expecting someone to ‘get-it’ after a few hours is a little far-fetched.
In fact, in all likelihood anyone dealing with these are not in work…
What is more beneficial to an organisation is being able to truly understand, identify and safely manage someone who is struggling with stress, depression and/or anxiety, including developing higher-level therapeutic techniques and skills so that you can successfully support someone to stay in work and positively impact their recovery.
Being able to safely signpost and direct someone in crisis will always be necessary, even for us mental health professionals.
But a lot of the other things, the things that are going to make a huge impact on your employees and to your organisation’s overall wellbeing, you absolutely can learn to do these and carry them out safely.
After all, if you can learn to deal with ‘minor & severe bleeding’ you can safely support someone who is struggling to manage negative or worrying thoughts.
If supporting your employees to develop proactive coping skills or for you to incorporate higher-level therapeutic techniques into your managers every day use the button below to register for our free, upcoming live online event ‘The HR Directors Guide to Managing Mental Health at Work’
& if you have any questions, please do pop your comment below & I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
Have a fabulous Tuesday :)
x Katie x
Remploy (n.d.). Mental Health First Aid. Retrieved 24-10-2018 from: https://www.remploy.co.uk/employers/training/mental-health-first-aid
St Johns Ambulance (2015). HSE 3-day first aid at work training course. Retrieved 24-10-2018 from: http://www.sja.org.uk/sja/training-courses/first-aid-courses/first-aid-at-work.aspx