What is a Mental Health First Aider?
When at work, just as your Employer is responsible for ensuring your physical safety, we believe that it’s equally important to safeguard our employees psychological and emotional well-being. As someone who is passionate that physical and mental health should have equal support in the workplace, I campaigned to introduce a Mental Health First Aid Team in the organisation, which myself and a number of my colleagues are proud members of.
The role of a Mental Health First Aider
All Mental Health First Aiders (MFHAs) undergo a two-day course, conducted by MFHA England, to ensure they’re well-versed in how to perform the role and best support our colleagues. In this course, we are given:
- An in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing
- Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of a range of mental health issues
- Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress using the Mental Health First Aid action plan
- Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
- Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support – whether through self-help resources, internal support such as EAP, or external sources such as their GP
- An understanding of how to keep ourselves safe while performing our duties.
Our MFHAs are dedicated to ensuring our colleagues are supported through offering our guidance, providing someone who will listen judgement-free, and directing people to relevant resources. We offer this service not only as a crisis-support but also to raise awareness around mental health in the workplace, and believe that prevention of ill-mental health should be a top priority.
At DCSL GuideSmiths, we now have a diverse, 11-person MHFA team. Emma Jeyarajah, one of our software developers, has recently qualified as a MHFA, and explains why she took the decision to become one. “I wanted to become a MHFA to help others that are going through a difficult time and raise awareness that mental health is something that everyone has and needs to protect.”
For more information on the Mental Health First Aiders course, click here.
Why it’s important to have Mental Health First Aiders
As previously mentioned, in the UK it is a legal requirement to have physical first aiders at the workplace, but mental health first aid is still a long way behind. Through training our team as MHFAs, not only are we providing more resources to deal with mental health issues, but we’re also hoping to tackle the stigma around talking and seeking help both at work, and in the wider tech community.
Nick Thompson, CEO of DCSL GuideSmiths, explains why it is so important to him that our employees are supported and encouraged to be aware of their mental health. “People with mental health issues can be stigmatised and there’s no place for that in the modern world and workplace. I strongly support our MHFA initiatives and applaud those who feel they can be honest and open about their situation so our trained team can help them in complete confidence.”
Whilst it’s still a relatively new initiative, it’s clear that having trained MHFAs at DCSL GuideSmiths is a beneficial system that supports everyone in the business, and we’re really proud that there’s continued interest in becoming a MHFA.
For more mental health resources, click here.