The Role of Mental Health First Aiders as Many Return to Work

Although the government asserts, we should be working from home if we can, many people have had to return to work as lockdown restrictions have been lifted or reduced. Workplaces have taken considerable care in ensuring their employees’ physical health is protected, but many may not have considered their mental health in as much depth, if at all.

People returning to work after several weeks or months at home may be nervous and have anxieties about any number of things. The mental health implications of anxiety and the stress it can cause cannot be underestimated. They may be worried about their loved ones, have health anxiety or many other concerns such as childcare or the financial implications of furlough worrying them.

Working from home has been a positive experience for many people. This study from Harris Interactive found 90% of respondents in their survey saying they felt just as self-disciplined or more so when working at home. 61% also said they felt just as productive than as if they had been in the regular place of work.

However, some voiced concerns about returning work with, with 25% admitting they’d feel less anxious if there was better communication from their workplace on key issues such as working arrangements, unpaid leave and partial employment options. This need for communication is where the provision of mental health first aiders could be really valuable.

Adopting Mental Health First Aiders

Mental health first aiders take responsibility for “checking in” on employees who may be overwhelmed or anxious and need additional support. Mental health first aiders are unfortunately mandatory or a legal requirement in any workplace but they can be vital in supporting employees, especially in such trying times.

Adopting mental health first aiders is a decision an employer can make on an individual basis and is mainly based on goodwill and the awareness of the importance of supporting employee mental health. By encouraging support and recognition of mental health as equally important to physical health, you are providing a safe and supportive work environment for all employees. Mental health first aiders can play a pivotal role in supporting employees with the return to work, helping them understand and manage any worries and anxieties and seek additional help for those who need it.

Mental Health First Aid training is available to any organisation or individual who wants to pursue it and it can be a really valuable addition to the skillset of any employee. Ensuring more senior employees have good mental health training is especially important as if they are taken ill for any reason, the risk to the business is higher too.

While Mental health first aiders aren’t mandatory, they can be an asset to your company and help ensure you have protection and support in place for your employees in the most trying times.

Interested in learning more? Take a look at our fully-funded Level 2 Certificate in Mental Health First Aid