In Blog, Microbiology

What are the first words that enter your mind when you hear the term “Mental Health” and “Mental Health Awareness”? The term “mental health” is often perceived in a negative light, connecting it to mental illness, sadness, depression, severe stress, state of crises or even suicide. However, the actual, meaning of mental health refers to our cognitive, behavioural and emotional wellbeing.

Here at BioCote®, we take mental health awareness very seriously. We are proud to be a company that actively supports its employees wherever possible to make the workplace a safe and positive environment. After expressing an interest in the course and proposing the benefits to the business, BioCote® Quality Officer and Health & Safety Officer, Ria Warren, attended a 2-day Adult Mental Health First Aid Course with St John Ambulance back in December 2019. Here she shares her experience.

EMPLOYER DUTY OF CARE

All employers have a duty of care to their employees, which means they must do all they reasonably can to support their employees’ health, safety and wellbeing. It is important to understand that any person at any age can develop a mental illness at any point during their lives.

Although BioCote® have always been a supportive company to our colleagues in times of need, we wanted to be able to expand our knowledge of mental health in order to be better equipped recognising mental ill health and providing support in a professional, understanding manner.

MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID PROGRAMME

Established in Australia in 2000 and adopted by Scotland and England in 2006, the Mental Health First Aid programme has since gradually spread to many other countries. The main aim of the mental health awareness course is to help attendees respond in the correct manner to individual mental health crises, such as depression and psychosis, and to spread awareness to prevent stigma and discrimination. This was communicated during the training course via role play, videos and class exercises which enabled attendees to have a glimpse into not only dealing with the crisis, but to understand from the point of view of the person struggling with a mental illness.

Ria Warren on the experience of attending the course: “Despite having been warned that the mental exhaustion accompanying the completion of the Mental Health First Aid course can be quite overwhelming, nothing can prepare you for the intensity of discussing emotional challenging and very sensitive topics for two days. Nevertheless, the course gave me the fuel to continue spreading awareness and preventing the discrimination that is often associated with illnesses that we cannot physically see.”

“I knew that it would be important to share the knowledge I acquired during the first aid course with my colleagues. I decided to deliver one-to-one presentations to members of the team due to the sensitive nature of the subject”, Ria added.

CREATING A POSITIVE AND SUPPORTIVE WORKPLACE CULTURE

Mental Health Awareness in the workplace is critical to a successful business and the happiness and health of employees. Statistics taken from St John Ambulance show that the annual cost of mental ill health to the UK economy is between £74 billion and £99 billion. Two out of 5 people have taken a day or longer off work due to mental health and wellbeing issues, whilst 1 in 4 people feel that their work is contributing negatively to their wellbeing.

“The feedback I received from the team was fantastic. Whilst many of my colleagues had a further understanding of mental health awareness and the difficulties some people can face as a result of mental health issues, they now feel more equipped to handle a mental health crisis due to increased knowledge of what to say, how to act and who to call during both an emergency or non-emergency situation”, explained Ria.

Statistics* have shown that a policy for managing mental health and wellbeing in a business will help to create a positive and supportive workplace culture, free of stigma. Business can also benefit from an increase in productivity and a reduction in sickness and employee turnover costs. 30% of business costs (£8 billion per year across the UK) could be saved through investment in wellbeing.

If you recognise that your colleague, friend or family member have not quite been themselves, take the time out of your day to ask, with privacy, if they are ok. General kindness, even to strangers, is often forgotten about in our fast-paced world.

So, smile and be kind – you may be surprised to learn that it can save lives!

For more information on Mental Health First Aid, please visit www.mhfaengland.org.

*Information, statistics and figures taken from:

  • St John Ambulance research, 2018 & 2019
  • mhfaengland.org, 2019
  • Thriving at work: the Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers, October 2017
  • Deloitte, mental health and employers: the case for investment, October 2017

 

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