Mental illness is the third leading cause of disability in Australia. In the work environment, 1 in 5 employees are likely to be experiencing a mental health condition at any given time, and untreated depression results in over 6 million work days lost each year.
Many workplaces are inadequately equipped to properly support people with mental illness.
The case for ‘Mental Health First Aid’
Every office has a first aider – someone who is trained to deal with situations such as anaphylactic shock, heart attack or less serious ailments such as cuts and scrapes.
Mental Health First Aid Australia is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing mental health training programs and courses for the public.
Trained mental health first aiders are able to assist a person who is in mental health-related crisis, or developing a mental health issue until professional treatment can be received.
Raising awareness of mental health in the workplace
Georgia Watson, Mental Health Consultant at EPIC Assist, says that proper understanding of mental health issues is important in the workplace.
“I agree with the concept of staff in the workplace undertaking awareness training in mental health issues, whether it be Mental Health First Aid, or a similar course,” said Georgia.
“[As Mental Health Consultants] there are times when we may observe that a colleague is experiencing personal difficulty, and we will also offer support to our colleague to assist them to access the supports they are seeking, whether it be a listening ear, identification of supports that are available, or practical support to access assistance,” Georgia said.
PWC research indicates that there is an average $2.30 return for every $1 invested in creating a mentally healthy workplace.
MHFA courses can be attended by anyone over the age of 18 years, and is particularly recommended for people in leadership roles, or working in human services.