In 2023, discussing mental health can still be seen as a sensitive subject, even though there has been increased awareness and dialogue about it. It’s essential for all of us to continually enhance our understanding and educate ourselves about how to navigate potentially challenging situations and recognise signs that someone might be struggling with their mental health in a professional setting.
Statistics show, at any given time one in six working-age adults have symptoms associated with poor mental health and one in four people experience poor mental health each year. A more shocking statistic is that in Great Britain during 2020, 1,752 people died in road traffic collisions and 6,479 people died from suicide. This highlights the critical need for mental health care.
I recently completed the Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) training course and am now a certified Mental Health First Aider. Continue reading to gain insights from her experience and learn how you can acquire essential skills to maintain your mental well-being.
Physical first aid courses teach you the initial help to give an injured person if professional help isn’t required or before professional help is accessed. The same applies to Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). It is the support given to someone who is experiencing poor mental health if professional help isn’t required or before professional help is accessed.
The oxygen mask theory – If you’re in the unfortunate position of being on a plane which is about to nose dive, you should secure YOUR oxygen mask before helping anyone else – including children. If you don’t, you risk not being able to help anyone at all. The same principle applies to the MHFAider role – if you aren’t well, you’re not able to safely offer support to others.
Self-care differs from person to person and can change over time. Some things we might do daily and some might be once a year, like enjoying a great holiday.
Self-care activities you can try include:
Drawing, DIY, unplugging from technology, dancing, kind acts, learning, cooking, meditating, watching a film, walking in nature, alone time, taking a bath, laughing, connecting with others, exercising, watching your favourite TV show, listening to music and much more!
Self-care activities you can try whilst in the workplace:
Taking a break from the screen, taking a break from a difficult situation – it’s okay to take the time to respond rather than reacting right away if you need to gather your thoughts, go for a walk, make sure you are drinking enough and eating well, ask for help if you need it.
Each of us perceives the world through a unique lens. Our perspective is shaped by various factors, including our family background, education, cultural influences, and life experiences. Consequently, it’s essential to recognise and understand your frame of reference. Your perspective may differ significantly from those around you in your workplace, and there might be experiences that you’ll never fully comprehend or relate to.
Acknowledging your frame of reference is crucial, especially when someone is going through difficulties or wishes to share their feelings and experiences. It’s important to listen to them without passing judgment. Even if you don’t agree with their thoughts, remember that they have had different life experiences that have led them to think as they do. Everyone deserves to be heard and understood.
The language we use daily can make a real difference in the way we are perceived by the people around us. This includes words or phrases, and the content of the language we use.
Unhelpful language can reinforce stereotypes and contribute to stigma. Helpful language can have a positive effect on people’s attitudes towards mental health.
This is where your Frame of Reference comes into play and to listen to people without judgement. When comforting someone you don’t have to jump to find solutions right away – often just talking and asking open questions can be a comfort and help the person who is struggling to maybe find a solution themselves. When you’ve felt listened to it can make you feel less alone and a lot lighter.
If you can see someone is struggling or to check in with someone always remember to ‘ASK TWICE’ and to start conversations with open questions.
Frequently, we begin our conversations with a casual greeting like, “Hi, are you doing okay?” and most responses tend to be along the lines of, “Yeah, I’m good, thanks. How about you?” However, when we follow up with a more probing question like, “So, is everything going well for you?” on the second ask, it’s more likely to prompt a different response if someone is facing difficulties.
Open questions you can ask.
Mental health is of utmost importance, and each individual must explore ways to maintain their well-being, recognising that these methods will be unique to them. Reflect on the times when you felt your best and the activities that contributed to that positive state.
It’s crucial to be mindful of your frame of reference when providing comfort to someone. Listening without judgment and refraining from inserting your own opinions or sharing your own experiences is key. Allow the person to open up and express themselves, making the conversation about them rather than yourself.
There are numerous effective techniques to becoming a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) and gaining knowledge about various mental health conditions, their associated signs and symptoms, and how to provide support and guide individuals toward seeking professional help when necessary. For comprehensive training, it’s advisable to consult MHFA Training Professionals. Visit https://mhfaengland.org/ for more information.