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Why Mental Health First Aiders are essential in the workplace

Work is a large part of our lives. We spend a lot of time in the workplace - it's where we gain income, and people often make friends within their work environment.

There are times when life gets on top of us – sometimes that's work-related, and sometimes it's something else – our health, relationships, or our circumstances. For example, the value-added to the economy by people at work who have/have had mental health problems is £225 billion per year, representing 12.1% of the UK's total GDP.

We must protect that by addressing mental health at work. At NOCN Group, we want an environment where everyone can thrive. Good mental health and good management go hand in hand, and evidence suggests that addressing well-being in the workplace can increase productivity by as much as 12%.

What is mental health?

Mental health is how we think and feel and our ability to deal with ups and downs. It's something each person has. We have a sense of purpose and direction, the energy we put into things we want to do and the ability to deal with challenges. So, when we think about physical health – we think about keeping fit, and if we have an issue, we help as soon as possible. Mental health is the same.

What is mental health first aid?

Generally, the purpose of a mental health first aider is to be a point of contact for employees if they are experiencing emotional distress or suffering in silence with mental health problems – such as stress, anxiety, or depression, for example.

Mental Health First Aiders are trained to listen and spot the early signs of mental ill-health in others. They are taught to signpost someone to appropriate support both internally and externally and are equipped to deal with emergencies, such as psychosis, thoughts of suicide or attempted suicide. They are not qualified therapists. They cannot advise, but they can listen and offer support options.

How can Mental Health First Aid help a workplace?

Having staff members trained in mental first aid ensures that there is always someone who can spot the first signs of a colleague struggling, which means they can get help earlier.

There is still a stigma around mental health in the workplace and having mental health first aiders helps alleviate that. Training staff in mental first aid shows that NOCN Group will offer support and guidance.

Having healthy employees makes for a healthy workplace. Having someone trained in MHFA helps employees and managers know what to look for and what to say, which will help employees feel healthier and supported when it comes to mental health.

Sadly, mental health is one of the most common reasons employees take long-term sick leave. Having staff trained to intervene and provide staff support when problems begin can help save companies money and time. This is more favourable than not supporting colleagues, and the problems become so severe that the staff member requires long periods off work.

Our Mental Health First Aiders

 At NOCN Group, we have 8 Mental Health First Aiders trained on MHFA. We also have a Commitment Charter that all our Mental Health First Aiders have worked on and agreed to. They are committed to supporting the workforce with mental health matters by offering:

  • Non-judgmental support
  • Actively listening
  • Challenging the stigma around mental health
  • Recognising the signs someone is in a crisis moment
  • Sharing knowledge to provide reassurance and support
  • Signposting to professional and specialist services
  • Promoting a positive culture in which mental health is openly and confidently talked about
  • Developing learning resources and providing opportunities for training sessions

"Becoming a Mental Health First Aider at NOCN Group empowers me to support colleagues, family, and friends in their mental health journey. Together, we foster a nurturing environment where well-being thrives, ensuring our collective success."

Sarah Whitham, Senior HR Administrator and Mental Health First Aider

Our courses in Mental Health

NOCN Level 2 Award in Mental Health Awareness

NOCN Level 3 Award in First Aid for Mental Health

OCN NI Level 1 Award in Infant Mental Health

OCN NI Level 3 Diploma in Mental Health

By providing these courses, we hope to play our part in raising awareness on understanding, recognising, and managing mental health.