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How can training help anxiety, depression, addiction and other conditions in the workplace?

When we think of first aid, we tend to picture a green box filled with plasters, bandages and antiseptic cream for the various cuts and scrapes we accumulate from accidents in the workplace.

While we may take excellent care of our physical ailments, it is also hugely important to keep a check on our mental health.

With one in four suffering from a mental health problem every year, mental health first aiders are perhaps more needed than ever to make sure we have the support we need if we are struggling. 

What is mental health first aid?

Mental health first aid is a training programme that teaches people how to help those suffering from a mental health problem or crisis.

The main aim is to equip people to be able to support the person suffering until they can receive professional help, or until their crisis has resolved.

What are the benefits of having a mental health first aider in the workplace?

According to the Centre for Mental Health, mental ill health costs UK employers £34.9 billion per year.

Findings published in 2017 show employers can reduce this cost by about 30 per cent by making simple improvements to benefit mental health in the workplace.

What does a mental health first aider do?

In the context of a workplace, someone trained in mental health first aid has the responsibility of recognising the early signs of mental health problems in their colleagues.

If someone is deemed to be suffering from a mental health issue, the first aider will sit down with them to have an open, non-judgmental conversation.

They can also direct the person in need to the right mental health services so they can get professional help.

Another role of a mental health first aider is to reduce stigma surrounding these problems – to ensure people can feel comfortable sharing their issues.

What can you learn on a mental health first aid course?

Different courses will have different features, but the main structure of the course remains the same. 

Some of the issues you will focus on are depression, anxiety and addiction as well as psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

You will also be taught how to spot warning signs and early indicators of different mental health issues, as well as treatment and resources for these conditions.

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