I know you’re probably thinking “not another mental health blog!”… but you’re reading this, so you must be some-what intrigued!
I attended a Mental Health First Aid course recently with St John’s Ambulance, I’m not usually one for training courses, as sitting and listening to a trainer talk through a very long PowerPoint presentation does not excite me in the slightest, but I was really interested in what this course entailed! Thankfully, it wasn’t just your average sit and listen course and actually, I am so glad I attended! The information I learnt over the course of 2 days has been invaluable, let me tell you why...
There has been a massive increase in Mental Health Awareness over the last year or so due to, well, you know (let’s try not to use the C word anymore!) I think we all have this perception to a certain degree that we know what Mental Health is. I’m also sure that if a Mental Health incident was to happen in a workplace, the responsible person for dealing with this would more than likely pass it on to HR or give some kind of generic advice, then probably jump on google for a little bit of help to! (this isn’t applicable to all, but many).
This course doesn’t teach you how to diagnose or treat Mental Health conditions, it teaches you the different variations of mental health conditions & episodes, and teaches you the protocols you should have in your workplace. But most importantly, it teaches you how to spot the warning signs and how to hold those difficult conversations, this is the part I want to highlight in this blog.
Take a second to think about this, how many times have you said or thought something along the lines of “but she seems so happy”, “he has a good life", "I didn’t think he would ever feel like that” or “I don’t really know what to say to this, it’s a bit too deep for me to understand” – I think we all have at some point, myself included! I can’t stress how important the following points are:
· ASK TWICE
If someone does not seem good & they respond with the generic “yes, I’m fine”, ask again… that second time shows that you genuinely care & may prompt a more honest response
· PAY ATTENTION
Those changes in behaviour, those changes in appearance, that sudden step back from social activities, it could be nothing... but it could be something!
Take time to learn the correct language, think about what you’re saying. Telling someone who’s having a panic attack “just take a breath” or telling someone who’s suffering depression to “just think positive” will not help. Your intentions when saying these things are not bad, but they may not be taken in the way intended
If someone does start to confide in you, just listen. You don’t need to start comparing to your life experiences, you don’t need to have the answers, you just need to listen
On my last point there about listening, another thing for you to think about…
We all say “good morning” or “you alright?” in passing, whether that be in the workplace or general life, but we don’t really stop and actually ask the question and continue the conversation do we? Try it, you never know who is in need of that conversation!
What I found amazing about these two days, was that all participants got involved, we shared real life stories, there was no judgement, complete confidentiality and actually, it was comforting to hear other people talking about things that I have experienced in life. It’s also really made me reflect on situations that have happened in my life, how I view Mental Health and it has given me real confidence in handling any future situations that may occur whether that be in personal life or workplace!
Finally, I want to end this by highly recommending all employers to offer this course to their employees or for employees to recommend it to their employers! Mental First Aiders are JUST as important as physical First Aiders!
I am now, proud to be the Mental Health first aider at Forward Role, we also recommend counselling services to all staff, if they should ever want it, as part of our employee health care benefits. You can check out what we get up to behind the scenes, to raise awareness for Mental Health issues, over on our Instagram.
“You have no idea what people are dealing with in their lives and minds, so just be nice, it’s really that simple!”
For more info on the St Johns Ambulance Mental Health First Aid course, click HERE
Danielle Secker is Executive Assistant & Office Manager at Forward Role