Launch of Mental Health First Aid
World Mental Health Day takes place on October 10 and is themed “psychological and mental health first aid for all”. This was a happy coincidence given the official launch of Mental Health First Aid in Ireland took place on September 29th . While mental health first aid is a relatively new concept in Ireland it has been around internationally for over 10 years with more than a million people trained in it worldwide.
Based on similar principles to physical first aid it aims to recognise when someone is in difficulty and provide the initial help and support through the experience. It does not require anyone to diagnose a mental health issue but rather trains individuals how to approach, assess and assist someone through the giving of support, information, empathetically listening and encouraging them to other supports where necessary.
Just as we all have physical health, we all have mental health and it can fluctuate over time requiring us to need support. According to research from the OECD, one in five people of working age will experience a mental health difficulty each year and they can occur in any individual, regardless of their job, gender or social background. However while people may suspect that a friend or colleague may be having a difficulty often there are concerns about what to say and fears about making the situation worse.
Mental Health First Aid offers participants the opportunity to address that concern and be confident to support someone through a difficulty. In addition to the impact on the individuals involved, the training has an impact in the organisation also. In the UK, the NHS saw a dramatic decrease by 37% in days lost to unplanned mental health absence following employee training in mental health first aid. In Ireland, 1000 people have gone through the training and some of the companies that have engaged with Mental Health First Aid include Ibec, Allianz and Deloitte.
Further details are available at www.mhfaireland.ie