MHFA Support for Businesses
How are you supporting your Mental Health First Aiders?
Your MHFAiders understand their role and want to make a difference. But what happens next? How do you look after them? Its important that the commitment to MHFAiders doesn’t end with training.
Why is it important to support MHFAiders?
You have trained employees within your organisation to become Mental Health First Aiders and fully support the role they play in supporting the mental wellbeing of your employees. But the role of a MHFAider, as we know, is not about counselling or advising, it is about non-judgemental listening and signposting people to professional help. However, a MHFAider may still hear things that are upsetting or disturbing. Sometimes due to the situation encountered, or sometimes something may resonate with their experience and have an unexpected impact on them.
It is important that they don’t take on the emotion or become too affected by situations. This is easier said than done. Therefore, providing a mechanism to support people and provide them with an opportunity to de-brief and reflect so there is not a cumulative impact on their own mental wellbeing should be part of implementing MHFA.
What’s the options for supporting MHFAiders?
· Have a central point of contact. Do your MHFAiders know who they can contact should they need support? This may be internally, perhaps another first aider or someone within HR. Or if there is an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) this may provide an option.
· Establish an internal network who meet up regularly, maybe once a quarter to share how things are going – what is going well, what they have learnt, what they might do differently another time.
· Ask them how they are in any regular 1-2-1 meetings. Not at the end of the talk but as the first question when there’s time to listen to the answer.
· Consider your wider health, safety and wellbeing strategy and structure. How does MHFA fit into this? Do you have an MHFA representative on your H&S Committee?
· Create a culture to automatically debrief after an incident. Have a buddy system, maintaining confidentiality of details but talking about how they are feeling. Any process to debrief should have the same parameters as MHFA ie not counselling or advising and therefore may sometimes include signposting to other info or support.
· Remind people of their helpful coping strategies and check they’re using them.
· Link up with other local organisations with MHFAiders and provide reciprocal support, ensuring all details are kept confidential.
What’s the benefits of supporting MHFAiders?
· Issues are less likely to build up if they are talked about it at the time. As they are reminded frequently in the training, self-care is the first rule.
· Networking and support provides an opportunity for shared learning, for example information on local organisations or useful resources, whilst remembering it is not about being an expert in mental health.
· Part of the role of MHFA is to reduce stigma and discrimination associated with mental ill health. An internal network of MHFAiders can identify how they can help with this for example promoting their role and explaining what it is, or sharing publicity and information on specific awareness days.
It maintains the momentum of MHFA – whilst the training is great, it is not about training but what you do afterwards.
Contact us for details
Protea Solutions offers networking opportunities for MHFAiders and provide internal support for MHFA networks, contact us for more info.
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