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Mental Health Training – Keeping a Mentally Healthy Workplace

St John first aid training mental health

Mental Health – it’s a term that’s quite often flung around in the media, in social settings and at the workplace, but what does it mean? Well, by definition, mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.

As people try to deal with the everyday stresses of life, such as family, relationships, children, work, finances and illness, there’s the potential for people’s mental health to take a toll with each added stressor. In fact, the current statistic is that one in five Australians will experience difficulties with their mental health in any given year, with almost half of us suffering a mental disorder at some time in our life.

Poor Mental Health in the Workplace – Breaking Down the Statistics  

A place that we are seeing a large influx in mental health issues is within the workplace. Australians are finding it increasingly difficult to juggle work and life stresses, which in-turn is creating a climate where more employees are coming to work with poor mental health and experiencing feelings such as depression, anxiety and anger.

In a survey we conducted in 2021, we found that:

  • Almost all (96%) Australians believe treating mental health is just as important as treating physical health
  • 7 out of 10 (69%) Australian workers have witnessed a colleague displaying at least one symptom of mental health issues in the workplace
  • Three quarters (75%) of Australians believe there are barriers preventing them from providing support to those developing a mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis - the most common of which is that they believe they don’t have the skills to approach these situations

In an effort to bring these high percentages down and create a safer work environment, workplaces can engage in training and provide support to equip their employees with the right skills if ever they find themselves in a crisis situation or are confronted with someone simply having a bad day.

Are Workplaces Supporting Employees Experiencing Mental Health Problems?

Over 9 in 10 (93%) believe employers have a responsibility to look out for the mental health of their workers. A growing question, what exactly do workplaces do to support employees experiencing mental health problems and how much should they be doing?

Traditionally, employees report to HR for advice, however, when someone is experiencing severe mental health issues, often this is not something they want to openly talk about and particularly not with those that may be reviewing their performance. On average, Australians spend approximately 40 hours a week at their workplace, so having a Mental Health First Aid Officer within the workplace means there is someone whose skilled to recognise signs of a crisis and proactively approach these employees who are in need, without feeling like they are being assessed.

What is a Mental Health First Aid Officer?

A Mental Health First Aid Officer is an employee who has completed formal Mental Health Training and is equipped with what to do in a crisis, can recognise signs of poor mental health and has the confidence to approach an employee they feel are mentally not coping.

Furthermore, the officer has the confidence and skills to refer the individual to additional help. Nine out of ten (87%) Australians would be more willing to offer help to someone suffering mental health issues if they knew how - which is why, with proper training, a more supportive environment in the workplace can be created.

How to Become a Mental Health First Aid Officer

To become a Mental Health First Aid Officer, individuals can complete our Mental Health Emergency First Aid Training. Through this course, participants will learn:

  1. What is mental health
  2. How to recognise signs of depression and/or anxiety
  3. Principals of crisis intervention
  4. Recognising and responding to signs of a person who may be at risk
  5. Providing support to people at risk
  6. Where to turn for assistance
  7. Principles of self-care

Building safer and mentally healthy workplace is something we can all work towards, by talking about mental health more openly and encouraging our workplaces to have a Mental Health First Aid Officer, we are moving in the right direction.

Source: St John Ambulance Victoria Survey by Lonergan Research
Laptop showing first aid training virtual classroom


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