World Mental Health Day on 10 October made many of us reflect on how we can play a part in improving the overall levels of mental health in the United Kingdom. Even Boris Johnson took time to meet Ben West, a teenager who lost his 15-year-old brother to suicide. Ben was delivering a petition to Downing Street to increase the mental health first aid training in schools to which Boris Johnson expressed his support.
So why are more companies considering Mental Health First Aid? The latest Mental Health at Work report by BTIC ‘Time to Take Ownership’ found that 39% of UK employees had experienced poor mental health, where work had been a contributing factor. This is an increase on last year’s report of 3%. The same report found that there had been a decline, with only half of employees feeling comfortable talking generally in the workplace about mental health issues. In addition, four children lose their lives to suicide each week and it is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds globally. The rates of depression and anxiety have risen by 70 percent in the last twenty-five years. Suicide is an issue for adults as well, with close to 800,000 people a year taking their own life across the world and there are many more people who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind.
World mental health day in October was a great opportunity to continue to conversation about mental health, but it is of paramount importance that we take action to reverse these worrying trends.
One of the recommendations by Public Health England has been to introduce Adult Mental Health First Aiders into all workplaces. If you are an employer, you will already be aware of the importance of having physical first aiders in the workplace but not so much mental health first aiders, even though you are statistically more likely to come across someone with suicidal thoughts than you are someone in need of CPR. The role of these individuals is to
- Spot the early warning signs of ill mental health
- Approach a person in distress and listen non-judgementally
- Signpost towards appropriate professional help
From November 2019 there will be the chance to train people from your workplace on how to be a Mental Health First Aider locally. The two-day training is very reasonably priced, it will give them the confidence and skill set required to support others. There are two courses; one in Pangbourne starting on 31 October and another in Henley on 20 November. The trainers are both based locally. Katy Dickie has extensive experience of training across the world and on running well-being programmes. Mollie Williams is an experienced facilitator and passionate advocate for mental health.
Has the past week made you think about your well-being?
Good mental health helps us relax more, achieve more and enjoy life more. It also helps us prepare for life’s ups and downs. Discover simple steps to improve your mental health by using the NHS your mind quiz.
Mental health is as important as our physical health, and there is always something we can do to improve it.