Dr Tony Romero, Cygnet Health Care CEO, is committed to protecting the mental health and wellbeing of his staff, the company having launched its first mental health first aid (MHFA) training programme in 2019. Recognising that the mental health and wellbeing of staff is equally as important as support provided for service users, Cygnet Health Care introduced Mental Health First Aiders across the business.
This article will outline the importance of companies investing in the mental health and wellbeing of their workforce and why it is crucial for forward-thinking organisations like Cygnet Health Care to put in place frameworks and training to support colleagues experiencing emotional distress or mental ill-health.
Today, increasing numbers of employers are coming to recognise that protecting the mental health of employees is just as important as protecting their physical wellbeing. MHFA is an internationally recognised course that is delivered by instructors who have attended a seven-day Royal Society for Public Health accredited programme.
Leading UK mental health charity MIND recently published research suggesting that one in four adults are likely to experience mental health issues annually that impact their ability to work. In the UK today, mental ill-health is the leading cause of disability in terms of direct costs of services, reduced quality of life and lost productivity at work.
Mental Health First Aiders in the workplace serve as an important point of contact for employees experiencing emotional distress or mental health issues. Such interactions could range from an initial chat to escalating crises situations and helping the individual access the help they need. Mental Health First Aiders can prove invaluable in terms of providing early support for an individual who may be developing a mental health issue.
A Mental Health First Aider is not a psychiatrist, therapist or counsellor, but they can provide initial support by simply listening without judgement and offering guidance.
MHFA training teaches Mental Health First Aiders to:
- Recognise early symptoms and signs of mental ill-health
- Open supportive dialogue with an individual who may be affected by emotional distress or a mental health issue
- Listen to colleagues non-judgementally
- Asses the risk of self-harm or suicide
- Encourage the individual to access professional support or appropriate self-help strategies
- Contact the emergency services in times of crises
- Maintain confidentiality
- Complete critical incident documentation
- Protect themselves at all times in the discharge of their duties
According to a report published by Oxford CBT, mental health problems can cost businesses up to an estimated £34.9 billion annually, largely due to impaired productivity. The data also suggested that, across businesses, a staggering 72 million working days are lost each year due to mental ill-health.
MHFA training equips people with the knowledge and tools they need to spot signs of mental health issues in colleagues, helping Mental Health First Aiders to recognise the first signs of distress and provide their colleague with appropriate support. With mental ill-health among the most commonly cited reasons for long-term sick leave today, businesses must invest in training their staff to intervene and support colleagues experiencing emotional distress and mental health issues.