Opening up the conversation around mental health

Mental health is a challenging topic to discuss in a work environment. According to the charity Time to Change, only 13 percent of UK workers would be comfortable talking about mental illness in the workplace.

This stigma needs to end, and businesses need to understand how they can best support employees who may be struggling. That’s why when The PHA Group asked if I wanted to become a mental health first aider, I jumped at the opportunity.

To become a mental health first aider, I had to take part in two days of external training delivered by Mental Health First Aid England. Ten PHA employees from different departments took part in the training where we learnt about the variety of mental health issues people may have.

The training aimed to develop skills and knowledge to have open conversations with anyone in the business and encourage people to access support early when needed. From the offset, we were told that we weren’t expected to offer therapy-level advice to anyone who may be going through mental ill health, but instead provide support, understanding and a safe space for anyone who may want to discuss how they are feeling.

One of the most important parts of the training was learning how to become better listeners. Understanding that people often don’t want solutions, but just want to be heard is vital to becoming a mental health first aider.

After two days of learning, we were ready to become mental health first aiders and in the following months, I’ve been able to use these skills in and outside of work – even when conversations aren’t specifically around mental health!

The PHA Group gave me the opportunity to become a mental health first aider, and I’m looking forward to supporting whichever staff member may need to have a quiet word or discuss how they are feeling in a non-judgmental and understanding way. It’s vital that colleagues know there is a team of mental health first aiders in the business to support them if they are struggling with their mental health.

The fact that there is a group of employees at The PHA Group who will be able to support anyone who may be struggling is a great advancement. It’s through these wonderful schemes that we can increase the percentage of UK workers feeling comfortable in discussing mental health in the workplace.

Get in touch with the team