What is Mental Health First Aid?
If a colleague hurts themselves physically in the office. What do you do? You’re probably thinking, “I’d call a First Aider”, and you’d be right. If a colleague is experiencing emotional pain, perhaps they’re having a panic attack, or have received a telephone call to say a loved one has died. What do you do? You can call a Mental Health First Aider.
What is Mental Health First Aider? A MHFAider supports someone who is experiencing a mental health issue, in the same way as a physical first aider would support someone who is experiencing a physical health issue. So if you or a colleague are in crisis, as described above, or if you’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed, stressed or depressed, you can call on a MHFAider for support.
MHFAiders are not therapists, just as physical first aiders aren’t doctors – but they will be able to listen, reassure, and help in a crisis, and will be able to signpost someone to get the help they need. BEIS has over 180 MHFAiders who are listed on Bob.
Between January 2018 and June 2019 BEIS MHFAiders helped colleagues 385 times. The subjects colleagues talked about include: stress; panic attacks; caring responsibilities; and managers seeking assistance with how to help their reportees who have a mental health issue.
It’s Good to Talk
The best thing you can do if you are suffering from stress or a mental health issue is to talk about how you feel. Talk to your family, friends, GP, colleagues, line manager, a helpline. Just talk to someone. There’s the old cliché that “a problem shared is a problem halved” but it is also true. Our society has historically stigmatised the act of asking for help and it’s one of the reasons male suicide rates are so high. I want to challenge that thinking.
Asking for help is a sign of strength
I want to promote the thought that asking for help is a sign of strength. If you realise you are suffering, it may take courage to admit there’s a problem and ask for help. Asking for help could be one the hardest things you do, but it really will be the best thing you ever do and I hope that MHFAiders will be there to help you take that first step towards getting the help you need.
Becoming a MHFAider
If you would like to train as a MHFAider in BEIS please email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you the information.
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