Poppy Jaman, CEO of Mental Health First Aid

The point of our courses is is two things: one is to raise awareness and understanding of mental health and mental illness and the second is about identifying early warning signs and signposting and the individual or yourself to get help early. We are at the mental health first aid course is about action and early intervention and the idea is that if we’re all educated in mental health we’ll all mental health literate then we should be able to swap the early signs and then have the confidence to have a conversation with someone to move them towards getting help early and in so doing we’re going to reduce the risk of people with early signs developing longer term mental health issues. Mental health first aid would be really useful for any profession and in particular lawyers who have got very stressful jobs because what it will do is it will teach you to recognize early warning signs of depression anxiety and stress and then how to take steps to do something about that. Our courses are geared towards teaching you to support other people but actually what we know for a fact is that it makes your own awareness and it’s an incredible tool for self help as well. Research showed that a third of employees feel that the stigma of mental health does exist within their organization and that their future prospect within their organization would be affected if they disclosed and talked about their mental health issues. So it’s really important that we as people managers are really aware of what’s going on in people’s life outside of work and we create the culture where people can talk openly about what’s going on for them in their life which may affect their work. So I think that any line manager or any people manager should absolutely get trained up at a mental health first aider or a very similar training where they are skilled to recognize early warning signs and they are definitely skilled in having a confident conversation with someone that they manage with someone in their team someone in their organization where they can see the early warning signs of stress and distress. And at the end of the day having a healthy workforce and having healthy people is good for business. We all have a duty of care around the people that work for us and as part of that duty of care it’s really important to recognize that mental well-being fits there. If you haven’t got talented people that are thriving within your organizations, running the show, running the business then you’re not going to be a successful business that goes without say. Staff engagement is critical to business success. To summarise I would say that we can all take personal responsibility for our own health and well-being and if every single one of us became mental health literate that we understood what mental health or mental illness was and most importantly we felt really confident to be able to have a conversation around mental health we would we would just change societies. My key take away is you get educated teach yourself about mental health teach yourself how to have a mental health conversation.

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