Why did Home Group start the mental health first aiders initiative?
We started this initiative in response to the pandemic; we were seeing increased cases of mental health issues with our customers and colleagues. Well before the pandemic started, we had provided mental health training but many colleagues hadn’t yet used these skills so this has given them the opportunity to do so. We now have over 125 colleagues who are committed to being a mental health first aider.
What is a mental health first aider and what do they do?
Mental health first aiders are available to signpost colleagues who are struggling and to provide initial support to those who need assistance; the same way physical first aiders respond to an injury or illness. Mental health first aiders also promote a workplace culture where colleagues are free to discuss mental health issues openly and feel supported by their colleagues when they do so.
What are the warning signs of someone struggling with mental health issues?
Any changes to someone's behaviour, such as being more short-tempered than normal, withdrawing from usual activities, loss of confidence, increased alcohol consumption, extra tiredness, headaches and weight loss are all signs that someone’s struggling.
What is the best way to ask someone if they need help?
Firstly, it's really important that you empathise with the person. Then start an open and non-judgemental conversation, they might just need to talk.
Why is being a mental health first aider important to you?
It’s important to me because I believe mental health should be given the same level of attention as physical health. It’s important to understand mental health and know how to talk about it. Personally, I have not always been aware of the signs from others and now have open communications with people.
What is the best way to support yourself or someone else struggling with mental health?
Encourage them (or yourself) to focus on things they're looking forward to and involve family and friends. Family and friends might not be aware of how they're feeling and could help. Help them access the right resources available in your local area too. They might just need encouragement to take the first step to seek help, or they're unaware of the support available to them.
If someone is distressed, reassure them as much as you can. If that person or anyone else is at risk of harm, contact the emergency services immediately by calling 999.
You can always speak to your support worker if you have one, as well as your doctor. Remember there are lots of people and organisations out there who can offer you support.
Mental health first aiders are important to me because I believe mental health should be given the same level of attention as physical health. It’s important to understand mental health and know how to talk about it. Personally, I have not always been aware of the signs from others and have open communications.
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