Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid

Meeting the mental health needs of your workplace can be uniquely challenging. Mental health issues are often not as apparent as physical ailments. Consequently, many mental health crises can go unaddressed or improperly addressed.

Unfortunately, the consequences of poor mental health can be palpable. Workers who are suffering will likely underperform or burn themselves out. They may even end up having to take a leave of absence. This can result in a shortfall of manpower, which in turn will create more stress throughout the office.

Chances are that your workplace already has some resources at hand for your workers. Many benefits packages include coverage for mental health therapy. In addition, fostering a supportive company culture can help maintain workers’ wellbeing.

While these resources are important, they still leave a gap that must be addressed. How do we respond to a mental health crisis in the workplace?

First aid is fundamental to every Ontario business. Every organization covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act follows clear first aid guidelines. Workplaces are to ensure first aid boxes are stocked and trained first aid personnel are available. These standards give workplaces the ability to recognize and respond to physical injures until professional help arrives.

Luckily, there are tools that can help workers recognize and respond to a mental health crisis appropriately.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a program practiced worldwide. Developed by Betty Kitchener and Anthony Jorm in the early 2000’s, this program seeks to train everyday people on how to respond to a mental health crisis.

Like traditional first aid, MHFA is not meant to replace professional attention. Rather, someone trained in MHFA will be able to help recognize when someone may need intervention, assure them and direct them to where they can get the appropriate help.

Having this first point of contact is important for harm reduction. In fact, MHFA has empowered learners to become more confident in supporting others as well as improving their own mental wellness.  

For those interested in learning more, the Mental Health Commission of Canada is a hub of information on mental well-being. They even have COVID-related resources. MHFA courses are available through them and through St. John Ambulance.

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