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From Stigma to Support: Shaping a Better Workplace With Mental Health First Aiders

From Stigma to Support: Shaping a Better Workplace With Mental Health First Aiders

We take time off work for things like broken bones and sickness bugs. But what about the things we can’t always see? The things that aren’t always obvious and that can be hidden behind a smile or a laugh? 

The conversation around mental health issues has shifted dramatically in more recent years, slowly eroding the stigma and allowing more and more people to speak openly about any struggles they may be facing. Which is amazing. So what can you, as an employer do to continue to break down those barriers around mental health? 

Of course there are mental health weeks and days to drive awareness, but could you go that one step further? One initiative we’ve found to add incredible value to our organisation is Mental Health First Aiders…

Importance of Mental Health

Mental health is just as important as physical health because it affects the way you feel, think and act, and is a big factor in your wellbeing as a whole. When your mental health is maintained, this allows you to feel happier, more confident and in a better position to handle any of life’s challenges.

But life DOES have many challenges that can affect your psychological wellbeing, and issues that may negatively affect it, show no discrimination. They can affect anyone. So knowing where to find the right support is key to intervening before any struggles turn into more severe issues. 

Finding the right support

There are many avenues of support in people’s personal lives that allow them to maintain their phsycological wellbeing when times get a little tough; there’s apps, therapists, services like the NHS that most people are aware they can turn to. 

But what about professional lives? Not everyone feels comfortable ringing their boss to request a day off because they don’t feel like they’re in a good place, mentally, to come to work and perform.

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And of those who had experienced a mental health problem, just 40% had taken time off work as a result. But more worryingly, nearly 80% had experienced presenteeism, where they had gone to work despite feeling unwell.

With these stats, it’s clear that there are still strides to improve the support in the workplace on the whole.

Mental Health First Aiders

It’s important for employers to recognise the importance of mental health issues in the workplace, and to create a culture that supports their employees in managing their mental health. 

Initiatives such as flexible working arrangements to allow for a healthy work-life balance, and employee assistance programmes to offer support from external professionals are great ways employers can reduce presenteenism, and promote a healthier workplace. 

At Hive, we have found that having in-house mental first aiders is invaluable for both employees and employers. They are trained to deal with stress and emotional distress, meaning employees have people on hand who are equipped to take care of those needing face to face help. 

This is a pivotal contributor to our wellbeing strategy for many reasons including: 

  • Early intervention – it allows for trained support to intervene and recognise signs of issues before they escalate.
  • Reduces the stigma – having mental health first aiders on hand shows your employees it’s okay to start the conversation around mental health.
  • Increases wellbeing – the knowledge that mental health first aiders are on hand, can help to create a culture of prioritising your mental and physical health. So employees may be motivated to do so, helping with a happier healthier workforce.
  • Improves morale – providing support to your employees can make them feel valued, which leads to improved morale and job satisfaction.
  • Inclusive culture – having support in place for those that do suffer with mental related health can help to create an inclusive culture. 

First-hand insight from our MHFA

Hear from one of our amazing mental health first aiders first-hand why she chose to become a mental health first aider, and what value she gained from taking the course:

So as you can see, there are many benefits to training members of your workforce to be mental health first aiders. It means a reduction in those hidden issues we may not always see, and it means support for those that need it. For us at Hive, they have proven successful and as employers we see the value they add to our people, and organisation. 

Have you thought about adding mental health first aiders to your wellbeing strategy?

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