‘1 in 6 workers need mental health support from bosses’ warns expert

mental health support1 in 6 UK employees will experience a mental health issue during their working life – and need support from their employer to tackle it – will warn one of the UK’s top mental health support experts at a conference this autumn.

Poppy Jaman, Chief Executive of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), will tell delegates at the HABC National Conference on 13 November 2014 at Old Trafford Stadium that employers should train staff in mental health first aid so conditions such as anxiety, depression and panic attacks can be better identified and supported by appropriately trained employees.

Mental ill health covers a range of conditions, each with specific signs and symptoms. Mental health first aiders (MHFAiders) are trained to be aware of these and guide the affected person to relevant support. Ms Jaman will argue in her speech that mental health first aid and physical first aid should go hand in hand, and that all businesses should have employees able to provide support in both areas.

‘With 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing a mental health condition in any one year and depression and anxiety affecting 20 per cent of the UK working population, it seems sensible that mental health first aid should be considered as important as physical first aid, both in the workplace and in society generally’, said Ms Jaman.

‘Very sadly, in recent months the media has reported a number of high-profile people completing suicide – each as a result of poor mental health. These serve as stark reminders of the tragic consequences that mental ill health can have on an individual and those around them’.

She added, ‘Raising awareness of mental health and the risk of suicide continues to be as important as ever, but much like physical first aid, the situations that an MHFAider might encounter are not always life threatening. Put simply, if an employee breaks their arm in the workplace, the first point of call will be the trained physical first aider. If the same person showed signs of having a panic attack, who would be qualified to support them?

By training people in mental health first aid, we are teaching participants how to spot the signs and symptoms of the most common health conditions and how to guide the affected person to appropriate support. With 77,000 people in the UK already MHFA trained, our mission is to train 1 in 10 people in England to be qualified MHFAiders’.

Christian Sprenger, HABC Managing Director, said, ‘Sadly mental health in the workplace is a growing issue, but one that employers are able to contribute to positively. Having staff appropriately trained so that they can help their colleagues, support them as necessary and point them to professional help can contribute to the overall wellbeing of both employees and businesses as a whole. Poppy Jaman is the UK’s leading advocate for mental health first aid, and her presentation will be of huge interest to anyone involved in the issue of employee welfare and mental health’.

Notes to editors:
1. Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance (‘HABC’) is one of the UK’s leading Awarding Organisations for vocational qualifications.
2. The first aid seminar is one of seven that make up the HABC National Conference covering a number of sectors including apprenticeships, fire safety/health and safety, food safety, licensing, pool lifeguarding and security.
3. Cost per attendee is £135+VAT for HABC Approved Centres and £195+VAT for non-Centres, with discounts available for early and multiple bookings.
About Mental Health First Aid England:
4. MHFA England is a Community Interest Company, established in 2009.
5. MHFA is the mental health equivalent of physical first aid training and provides participants with the skills and confidence to recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues and effectively guide a person towards the right support services.
6. As well as the standard MHFA course, the organisation runs a number of bespoke courses including Youth MHFA, MHFA Lite, Armed Forces MHFA and MHFA Workplace.

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