Support Better Mental Health in Your Workplace

Nina Salameh 23 March, 2021

Mental health in the workplace is, or should be, a priority for organisations of all shapes and sizes.

1 in 5 Australians experience mental illness in any one year.

Studies into the impact of COVID-19 on mental health have so far reported a decline in mental health of individuals in correlation to the outbreak of COVID-19.  With the ever-changing nature of this situation there is an overwhelming need for workplaces to prioritise the mental health of their employees in their organisations.

Whilst COVID-19 may put an increased spotlight on mental health the reality is that this is an area of our organisations, our people and their wellbeing that is essential for us all to be aware of and commit to an effective pathway to support our workers.

Learning the skills to make a difference

Since the government announced an easing of COVID-19 restrictions, your team has slowly been transitioning back to the physical workplace. Some have enjoyed working remotely whilst others have missed the face-to-face interaction with colleagues and couldn’t wait to return.

Think about this scenario for a minute:

After a couple of weeks back onsite, you notice that Patrick, one of your employees, is not quite himself. Before the pandemic, Patrick was jovial, sharp witted and always enthusiastic about his next challenge however since the return he has called in sick 4 times and colleagues have commented that he has been quite snappy during interactions. You also notice that he is looking a little dishevelled which is unusual as Patrick is known for the effort he puts into appearance.

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As his manager and trusted colleague, how confident are you to reach out to Patrick to address these noticeable changes? What if you knew that Patrick was in the middle of a divorce, hadn’t seen his kids in 4 weeks and was feeling hopeless about his future?

Far too often we see the signs that are evidenced by changes in behaviour however many of us lack the skills and confidence to reach out and help someone like Patrick who might be struggling with mental health issues.

If Patrick rolled his ankle at work and began to limp, many of us would have the confidence to provide some assistance or direct him to the appropriate help such as physical first aid or physiotherapy. Unlike physical health complaints, mental health issues can be subtle and difficult to recognise.  This often means  someone like Patrick does not receive the appropriate and timely care resulting in the issue to worsen or become a crisis.

How can we help?

Employ Health now offers Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training run by accredited instructors. By the end of the course, you will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Recognise signs and symptoms of common mental illnesses
  2. Identify risk factors and causes of common mental health problems
  3. Offer help to someone showing the signs and symptoms of a developing mental health problem or a mental health crisis

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is an internationally recognised, evidence-based training program that teaches members of the public how to help a person developing a mental health problem (including a substance use problem), experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis.

Like traditional first aid, Mental Health First Aid does not teach people to treat or diagnose mental health or substance use conditions. Instead, the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program gives people the skills to have the conversation with someone that they’re concerned about and assist them until appropriate professional help is received or until the crisis resolves.

Why be a Mental Health First Aider?

A Mental Health First Aider is an integral part of developing a positive work environment that supports and encourages mental health in the workplace. As well as enhancing workplace culture, it provides a channel for effective communication by appointing one or more dedicated resources as first responders, skilled to support employees dealing with mental health issues.

With over 900,000 people trained in Mental Health First Aid in Australia and 4 million globally, there are just as many inspirational stories about how MHFA has changed lives, both inside and outside the workplace.

Learn more about how Mental Health First Aid could help you.