Why we all need a Mental Health First Aider in our workplace

Why we all need a Mental Health First Aider in our workplace

Workplace's need to ensure Mental Health Awareness week is more than just a marketing platform.

You cut yourself in the office and one of your colleagues calls the nearest First Aider. You know they’re not a doctor but you instantly feel calmer because they’ve been trained in how to deal with that situation they bridge the important gap between you panicking and an ambulance being called. But what about when you’re overwhelmed with work? If you feel anxious and can’t explain why?  Or everything has just got on top of you and you want to SCREAM! You can’t tell anyone in your office because you don’t want to them to think you’re rubbish at your job…

Well actually you can. And they’re called Mental Health First Aiders. Attending a mental health first aid course is exactly that, it teaches skills for providing first aid to people who may be experiencing mental health issues. They aren't a therapist, in the same way a physical first aider isn’t a doctor - but they are someone who is able to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis - and even potentially stop a crisis from happening. This is because they've received training to recognise warning signs of mental ill health.

We want Bauer Media to be a great place to do great work which is why we have recently trained seven members of the team to be Mental Health First Aiders. And we know that this issue is as important to our people as it is to our consumers. That’s why we’ve come together as a collective of our most influential brands – including Grazia, heat, Kiss FM, Absolute Radio and Magic Radio – alongside Natasha Devon MBE, MHFA England and a whole host of celebrities, to launch a campaign for it to be made law for there to be Mental Health First Aiders in every workplace or college. 

Looking after our physical health is something we proudly show off to the world – whether that’s a sweaty gym selfie or going for a jog and sharing our auto-tweeted map afterwards.  But what about looking after our brains and ensuring we keep our minds fit? Why does voicing this in public still have such stigma attached?

As part of our campaign ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ we commissioned a study across all of our audiences and the results were astonishing.  90% agreed that there is still a taboo in speaking about Mental Health in the UK while 56% of people questioned said they have experienced a mental health issue, debunking the previous thinking that it was ‘1 in 4’ and the ‘1 in 3’ that most experts have drawn on in the past.

As influential media brands we know how to drive cultural impact through the power of our magazines and radio stations – all of whom have unique strengths in cutting through with audiences across multiple platforms at relevant times in which they need to connect. We are built around passions, fueled by knowledge and trust and we have an important role to play in opening up this cultural conversation. Our relationship with our audiences is not passive, it’s a two-way dialogue and it’s our responsibility to act as their mouth piece and supporter in voicing the issues that affect and connect with them.

Each of our brands has championed this campaign in a way that’s relevant and relatable to its audience – whether that’s Magic Radio launching weekly podcasts around Mental Health issues, Heat and Kiss FM interviewing celebrities like Liam Payne and Charlotte Crosby opening up about their anxieties or Absolute Radio simply connecting with its listeners. The morning our campaign launched, Christian O’Connell read out this message from a listener, "Thank you for the campaign. Today would have been my best friends 27th birthday. We lost him to suicide a few years ago. I work as a mental health nurse with children and there is still way too much stigma". A simple moment that landed an emotional connection with the Absolute Radio audience.

Writing for this week’s Grazia Magazine, Natasha Devon MBE claims that "Good mental health at work is more important than a pay rise," and she’s not alone. According to the Origins of Happiness report*, eliminating mental health issues such as depression and anxiety would increase happiness by 20%, whereas eliminating poverty would increase happiness by only 5%. In other words, tackling mental health problems would be 4 times more effective at increasing happiness than reducing poverty.

The BBC reported this week that "More employees are approaching their managers with concerns around mental health, but most companies fail to offer appropriate training".

And writing in Campaign recently, Diana Tickell CEO of NABs admitted that they have taken more calls to its Advice Line than at any other time in six years and "more than a third are for emotional support, of which 64% are about mental health and work pressures."

Natasha says, "All the evidence shows that the earlier we catch a mental health difficulty, the easier it is to treat and manage. However, because of a lack of knowledge and resources and because of feelings of shame and embarrassment, the tendency is to wait until we reach crisis point. This in turn costs employers millions in lost hours, as well as representing a significant cost to quality of life."

Bauer Media’s ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ campaign is about promoting greater frankness about mental health to our readers and listeners across multiple platforms in a way that connects to them in the right way at the right time.  Within hours of launching our petition we were inundated with support from both audiences and influencers. Jeremy Corbyn said, "Having trained and identified people in the workplace who you can go to is very, very important. Above all, it’s about being kind to each other and recognising that each other can be under stress at different times." While Channel 4’s Rachel Riley summed it up in her tweet, "MHFA have courses on training people on how to spot if a colleague has a mental health issue. Imagine if every workplace had this. That’s the future."

Lucie Cave is editorial director of Bauer Media

Help us make this important change to the law. Sign our petition at wheresyourheadat.org. To find out more about training your staff as Mental Health First Aiders go to MHFAengland.org


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