MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID
Much like physical first aid, mental health first aid is the help provided to a person who is developing or experiencing a worsening of a mental health problem, or who is in a mental health crisis. Mental health first aid is given until appropriate professional treatment is received or until the crisis resolves.
What will I learn in a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course?
Using a practical, evidence-based action plan, Mental Health First Aid courses equip people with the knowledge and skills to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, and to confidently provide the correct referral information and support to someone who may be developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.
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In a case study published by MHFA Australia, "Fernwood Women's Health Clubs head office made a commitment to pursuing a mental health training program that would work across all sections on their organisation". Mental Health First Aid Training is now "a requirement for all club owners, managers, and trainers who offer health and wellness sessions. To date, over 300 staff have undertaken training".
The case study notes that since implementing this training, "Fernwood has also introduced a new process of ‘checking in’ as part of their member induction process. This includes a mental health check that staff now feel more equipped to provide. " This included the example "of one particular day when a member was experiencing a mental health crisis. Staff were able to quickly and effectively put into practice what they had learned. They responded with empathy and got the woman the care she needed. They later received the gratitude of both the member and her healthcare provider."
Th case study also notes that "that staff are saying that they no longer find mental health conversations difficult, and that talking about mental health is now more common place even in staff and management meetings."
Mental illness is the leading cause of sickness, absence, and long-term work incapacity in Australia. Every day, millions of Australians come to work while experiencing a mental health problem, leading to increased absenteeism, presenteeism and compensation claims.Mental ill health costs Australian workplaces $146 million in compensation claims per year, with workplaces losing $4.7 billion in absenteeism.
The good news is that for every $1 spent on mental health strategies there is a $2.30 or greater return on investment. Mental Health First Aid training has been identified as one of the key strategies to lessen the impact of mental health problems on productivity and many workplaces use MHFA training as a foundation of the Mental Health Strategy.
Get more information on becoming a mentally healthy workplace, including workplace resources such as Business Case Templates, Mental Health First Aid Officer guides to the role, promotional posters and more at the MHFA Australia website.
The MHFA Skilled Workplaces Program also recognises workplaces for their commitment to Mental Health First Aid training. "It is our way of celebrating organisations across Australia who not only invest in developing mental health first aid skills in their people, but also show a strong commitment to embedding the program into their organisation’s culture; through actions like senior leadership support, relevant policies, supporting Mental Health First Aid Officers and continuous improvement."