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The Benefits of Mental Health First Aid Training

Benefits in Everyday Life

In the UK, one in four adults experiences at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any given year. A full 50% of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14 and two thirds by the age of 24, confirming that family and the home environment plays a massive role in the development of mental health issues. This statistic also tells us that families and young people are the most fundamental parts of society with whom we need to address mental health and wellbeing.

Suicide happens to be the biggest killer of men under 45, along with the fact that men between 40-50yrs old have the highest suicide rates in the UK. The construction industry, which also happens to be male-dominated, has the highest rate of suicide of any profession in the UK. Around three construction workers complete suicide each week.

Suicide is also the biggest killer of young people aged 5-19 in the UK, with teenage female suicides being the highest ever on record. Mental health issues in children and young people with cases of self-harm and eating disorders are skyrocketing.

The post-lockdown statistics on mental health

As 2021 moves on and the UK starts opening up, we will be presented with the statistics on what happened to the nation during lockdown. With everything that has happened, many of us will likely be coming out of this lockdown with lower levels of wellbeing and mental health, along with some undiagnosed mental health conditions. In the UK, 70-75% of people with diagnosable mental illness receive no treatment at all.

People tend to ignore their mental health as it's not something we can see, such as being overweight or having an injury. We like to just 'get on with it'.

Many people can go for decades this way, have a breakdown or worse, before they get help.

Unfortunately, we all work differently, with different levels of coping and resilience. This can then bring on feelings of guilt in a person who may be struggling and only adds to the stigma surrounding mental health. People dealing with mental health in this way are not only unfair to themselves but also to those around them as they expect other people to do the same and just get on with it.

This is not just unacceptable; it's also not fair!

Mental Health First Aid Courses are training programs that train the everyday person to help someone developing or experiencing a mental health problem. It teaches a person how to have a supportive conversation and how to signpost towards professional help. These courses give the everyday person the skills to help address the gaping void between someone becoming unwell and getting the help they need.

Most importantly, they also train people on how to look after their own mental health and wellbeing. The training will help you prevent another person's mental health from deteriorating, teach you to look after yours, and ultimately save a life.

The benefits on an individual level are therefore obvious.

Benefits in the Workplace

As we proceed with 2021, many of us will be going back to places of work or will remain working from home. Both have their own set of mental health challenges that need to be addressed.

There is now a mountain of evidence directly linking how a mentally healthy workforce impacts the organisation's bottom line, growth, and culture. There is no need to push that agenda, organisations either get it or they don't!

The decision to prioritise workplace mental health and how to nurture it has already been made for us here in the UK, simply by the data available:

  • Poor mental health carries an economic and social cost of £105 billion a year in England and £10.8 billion a year in Scotland.

  • Around 595,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression, or anxiety.

  • 239,000 workers suffered from a new case of work-related stress, depression, or anxiety.

  • 15.4 million working days lost due to work-related stress, depression, or anxiety

  • Working days lost due to stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 57% of all working days lost due to ill health.

  • The leading cause of work-related stress, depression or anxiety was due to people's 'workload', accounting for 44% of all cases.

Believe it or not, these statistics were all recorded before COVID19!

What that means is that we had been working with an already mentally broken workforce in the UK. The data makes that quite clear. Now factor in the lockdown and everything else we have been through as human beings over the lockdown period.

We can be confident of one thing post-lockdown: the mental health of the UK workforce will not be in any better place than before!

Now, should we all just get vaccinated and get back to work like nothing has happened?

Would that even be humanely possible? Wishful thinking, perhaps? Completely out of touch? Or just very naive?

A Critical Decision Point

We are now presented with the most critical decision we will make in a generation for employers. What we decide will determine the length of time it will take the UK to get back on its feet and how we work as a nation for generations to come. We have an opportunity to make a huge change for the better.

Any organisation undertaking mental health first aid training must be fully compliant with the many pieces of legislation surrounding workplace health to avoid legal action being taken against them. In doing so, they will benefit from reduced absence, presenteeism and staff turnover. They enhance their reputation, improve teamwork and productivity and establish morale at high levels.

This will, in turn, make that organisation more attractive to new talent (a positive mental health culture is quickly becoming a priority for many jobseekers). It will create a culture to engage with the thinking of millennials and an incoming workforce of Gen Z's, who will more than likely avoid any organisation that does not put their wellbeing first.

Mental health first aid training in the workplace can help an organisation create a framework for wellbeing alongside their employees, creating a culture of inclusivity where both people and profit flourish. Therefore, organisations implementing mental health first aid training are future-proofing themselves via sustainability and a culture that sets a benchmark for corporate social responsibility for that organisation.

Mental health first aid training benefits are inexhaustible and build the best foundation for any well-being framework both in the working world and in personal life. This training is an essential manual for life!

Richie Perera is the Founder of Mental Health and Life and is passionate about mental health in the workplace. He's a strong believer that if we can get mental health right at work it will impact all other parts of our lives.

Richie has fifteen years experience as an Award Winning Company Director and Business Consultant, he is also an Expert Industry Consultant at Guidepoint Global, and is Chair of Judging Panel - International Business Excellence Awards (IBX) Dubai

Richie's accolades include:

Investors in People - Peoples Manager of the Year 2018 Named and voted for by Investors in People As A Leader In HR and People Management Practice Globally Mental Health First Aid Instructor - NUCO & MHFA England


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