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Why Become a Mental Health First Aider

Mental Health First Aider

Table of Contents

A mental health first aider in the workplace act as a point of contact for those with mental health issues, providing support and guidance to workers. They also act as an advocate for good mental health, helping to reduce stigma around the topic and enact positive change.

In a time when workplace mental illness in Australia is on the rise, the topics on the matter are not talked about enough. Everyone should be able to discuss mental health as feely as physical health.

Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental illness lead to high absence rates, which often goes unrecognised by the management.

With that said, here’s a rundown of the responsibilities of a mental health first aider and how they help colleagues with mental problems.

 

What is a Mental Health First Aider

The primary role of mental health first aider is to support employees who may be experiencing mental ill-health or emotional distress.

Mental health support can vary from having a non-judgmental conversation with the person in crisis, recognising warning signs, and guiding colleagues towards the right support.

Mental Health First Aiders are trained to spot the early signs of mental ill-health through listening and observing behaviours. They are taught to confidently direct someone to appropriate support, both internal and external.

Most importantly, they have the skills and knowledge necessary to deal with mental emergencies such as psychosis, thoughts of self-harm, or attempted suicide.

However, it is important to note that mental health first aiders are not qualified therapists, counsellors, and psychiatrists. They can listen and offer support options but cannot provide medical advice.

 

The Role of a Mental Health First Aider

Here is an outline of what to expect from this role.

  • Maintain confidentiality (unless someone’s life or safety is at risk)
  • Recognise early signs of mental illness in the workplace
  • Assess the risk of self-harm or suicide
  • Listen to what others are saying without judgement
  • Know when to contact the emergency services (if necessary)
  • Care for own safety and mental wellbeing
  • Know how to initiate a conversation with people who may be experiencing an emotional or mental crisis
  • Encourage others to use available support, both internal and external.
  • Fill up and complete critical incident documents for reporting
 

Although the role does not include providing therapy, mental aiders must encourage others who may need professional support to seek and access it.

Overall, mental health first aiders are appointed to let people know that they are not alone, making their time at work be more comfortable.

 

How to Become One

To become a qualified mental health first aider, you must complete a two-day (12-hour) course.

A mental health first aid course is comprehensive learning, including mixed theory learning, discussions, and group work activities.

Every MHFA course is delivered by a quality, assured and accredited instructor as per MHFA Australian guidelines.

Anyone can attend the course, but interest in mental health and well being is desirable. Upon course completion, you will receive a certificate to confirm participation and understanding of mental health topics.

The course includes:

  • Mental health basics (including what is mental health and the impact of mental illness in Australia)
  • Signs and symptoms of existing (or developing) mental illness
  • Resources that can help deal with mental health issues
  • MHFA using the ALGEE principle
  • First for mental health crisis
  • Treatment and support for depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Treatment and support for anxiety and panic attacks
  • Treatment and support for psychosis, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder
  • Treatment and support for substance abuse, gambling addiction, eating disorders, and aggressive behaviours
  • Provide helpful resources, including professional, peer, community support
 

Enrol in a Mental Health First Aid Course

Appointing mental health first aiders in the workplace is a positive way to demonstrate that the business cares about employees’ wellbeing – not only about their physical safety but also their emotional and mental health.

To find out more about Mental Health First Aid Training, check our course page or email us at courses@firstaidpro.com.au.

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