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World Mental Health Day 2022: Mental Health First Aiders

BPE has a number of Mental Health First Aiders - people staff can go to for a sympathetic ear and will listen without judgment, and who can signpost to appropriate support (both within the workplace and externally) and can spot the signs of mental health concerns.

We asked two of our First Aiders why it is important to them to be able to help people are need a little extra support. 

Bethany Hamilton

Becoming a Mental Health First Aider was something I felt passionately about since I started working in HR. Working in HR means, by nature of the role, I spend a lot of time talking to people who are experiencing difficulties whether that is influenced by things at work or at home. I think it is vital that HR is more than a function or a process but provides support and help for people when they need it.

Conversations about mental health have become more commonplace and being able to hold these conversations well has become an important part of my daily role. This has helped me to have more open and honest conversations with staff. Being educated and keeping up to date with mental health, ways to support staff and how this can influence our wellbeing strategy has all been influenced by the mental health training I received.

I am able to point people to resources that would help them and we have incorporated these resources into several of our policies such as our mental health and stress policy. I can now approach conversations about mental health from a place of education rather than assumption. I can spot signs that someone may be struggling more easily and encourage people to access the support they need. The most important thing I have learned is that every person and situation is unique and it is about guiding people to the support they need and not telling them what they should do.

Michael Templeton

Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) provide an immediate point of contact for someone with concerns about their mental health, and while MHFAs are not, and should not be seen as, a substitute for a qualified counsellor or therapist; they can provide a valuable and important starting point in someone’s journey towards recovery.

However, for me the most important role is to destigmatise the topic. Mental health issues directly affect 1 in 3 people in the UK, and indirectly affect considerably more, yet the main reaction to someone with those concerns are embarrassment or shame. The stigma of being labelled or demeaned means that people are reluctant to address issues that can (and invariably will, if left unaddressed) have a huge and lasting negative impact on a person’s quality life. Having named MHFAs means that the opportunity for advice and support is visible to anyone who might need it, and makes that first step towards help and treatment easier.

These notes have been prepared for the purpose of articles only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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