Mental health first aid is not a panacea for our health problems
If you are watching luxury As it has evolved across organizations in recent years, you will likely have noticed the introduction of Mental Health First Aiders into the agenda.
You may also have noticed that it has been the case time and time again that companies will invest a significant amount of money and time in training employees to become the mental health first aid of the organization or team. However, these people can end up rarely being approached by other staff for mental health support.
Mental health first aiders cannot be truly effective unless they are recruited with clear goals and expectations within their lane.
If you have a senior mental health aide in your organization, ask yourself if it ever occurred to you to approach him or her at a time when you were struggling with mental health issues. Often, the answer is no, and the precious time and money used to train these individuals are not being exploited even remotely enough to make a difference to the well-being of the workforce.
Crucially, this is why companies cannot and should not view installing mental health first aiders in their organizations as the only way to help their business’ mental health and wellbeing agenda.
What is the first aid for mental health?
To give a little context, the number one helper for mental health is They are trained to recognize the warning signs of mental ill health, and to develop the skills and confidence to approach and support someone who may be struggling, and then enable them to access appropriate support..
For companies, installing a mental health first aid kit is sometimes seen as a “square” exercise ostensibly indicating that the company has procedures in place to “support” employees’ mental health and well-being. However, something that is often forgotten, but necessary for organizations to acknowledge, is that mental health first aiders cannot be held solely responsible for improving mental health within a company. Furthermore, mental health first aiders cannot be truly effective unless they are recruited with clear goals and expectations within their lane.
How to properly employ mental health first aid
When mental health first responders are seen as an asset within a wellbeing strategy, rather than the sole solution to resolving wellbeing issues or a ‘wellbeing advantage’ just for show, they are more likely to be successful. When given clear direction and appropriate time and support from their organization, they can be great channels for improving engagement and leading the way in removing the stigma around poor mental health.
Their job is to be the ones who can act as the first responders in recognizing where support might be needed and then breaking down the barrier by starting the conversation. The Senior Mental Health Paramedic is not a trained professional who will be expected to conduct advanced conversations, but they are there to help signal additional support.
When the mental health paramedic is seen as the solution rather than a single component of a multi-pronged strategy, this places an enormous responsibility on an often small group of people who are likely drawn to becoming a mental health paramedic Because of own living experience.
A multi-pronged approach is essential to addressing mental health impairment and maintaining mental health for those who become mental health first aiders.
There must be recognition and understanding that there is a complex interaction between work issues and life issues outside of work
How do organizations go beyond mental health first aid?
To support employees when it comes to mental health in the workplace, the entire business needs to engage in a culture of wellbeing promotion. From the C-suite down, a holistic understanding of wellbeing that recognizes the multifaceted nature of an employee’s life that can impact mental health needs to be supported by the entire organization.
In any scenario in or out of the workplace, to support an individual with poor mental health, one needs to resurface the cause of the problem, which may not be something directly related to work. As such, there must be an acknowledgment and understanding that there is a complex interplay between work issues and life issues outside of work.
It is impossible to separate how someone performs at work and their levels productivity and job satisfaction with their state of well-being in their wider lives.
Once organizations have a more holistic view of understanding well-being at work, it becomes exceptionally clear why mental health paramedics cannot resolve the organization’s struggles on their own.
What does a good mental health strategy in the workplace look like?
Organizations working in the field of health and wellbeing value and act on the intersection of all elements of wellbeing, health and DEI. They understand how this interaction promotes a culture in which people thrive, and in doing so serves the company’s customers better, treats the environment better and delivers better business results.
In the recently published guidelines on mental health at work from the World Health Organizationand in ISO 45003 By international wellbeing standards, there is an emphasis on the importance of the workplace as an ecosystem that collectively supports and contributes to improved mental health, as the responsibility for promoting good mental health is placed on the entire organization rather than an isolated HR activity.
The key to an effective and actionable wellbeing strategy framework is not just a good mental health first aid kit, along with bowls of fruit and some free yoga. It comes down to how brave the organization is willing to be in recognizing the role workplaces play in supporting and promoting good mental health within the community. It is up to organizations that realize that a holistic approach to well-being, where it becomes the responsibility of all rather than a limited few, will have a broader and more positive impact.
Ensure that the welfare strategy has a place on the agenda for your organization’s next board meeting
Additional HR resources
Learn more about workplace wellness guidelines by reading WHO guidelines for wellness at work and the IS45003 Guidance for psychological health and safety at work.
Ensure that your employees are aware of the wellness solutions and services available in your organization. You may send out a survey to gauge current awareness of your wellbeing support systems and collect anonymous feedback from staff on what measures they would like to see implemented
Finally, ensure that the wellbeing strategy has a place on the agenda for your organization’s next board meeting, and explore the option of having a job role dedicated to this purpose, such as Chief Wellbeing Officer.