Put simply, this is a call for every workplace to have trained mental health first-aiders just like they have physical first-aiders. A number of employers are taking action. WHSmith has committed to match the number of staff that are physical first-aiders with mental health first-aiders over the next 12 months.
This is an interesting idea. I remember when I used to work in an office, that we all knew which employees were certified to provide CPR and other first-aid assistance in a health emergency. There would certainly be challenges with mental health situations to be overcome, but there is some merit to thinking in these terms.
The first obvious challenge to me would be in correctly identifying when a mental health first-aider was needed, and perhaps the largest challenge would just be changing the workplace atmosphere to one where employees would be willing to talk about mental health issues. I don’t suspect that there are many people who don’t question how much admitting to any struggle with mental health would impact their career negatively.
Of course, my own current situation also makes me think of another challenge. How do you identify mental health issues when people don’t work in an office around each other every day? It’s becoming more and more common for “work” to take place all over the place, not just in the office between 9 and 5. As remote employees become more popular, how do you support their mental health from a far?
Like I said, there are challenges. On the other hand, there are a lot of people struggling and it’s impacting the workplace. Businesses should be looking at ways to help support their employees.