Training in mental health first aid

Article image - Training in mental health first aid Glenys Nicholls and Cymone de Schipper who recently qualified in Mental Health First Aid for the Latrobe and Kentish Councils.

To help support staff in the workplace, two Tasmanian councils have implemented mental health first aid training, enabling staff members to provide compassionate and confidential peer support.

With a growing awareness of the effect that mental health has, not only on the individual but also on the productivity of an organisation, the Latrobe and Kentish councils have taken the proactive step of facilitating Mental Health First Aid Training to several key staff.

The councils recognised that as the workplace is where its staff spend most of the day, it is reasonable to presume that this would be where the early signs and symptoms of an emerging mental health problem may initially be noticed.

Mental Health First Aid Australia provided the training to several staff who represented many sectors of the indoor and outdoor personnel across the councils.

Throughout the course, participants improved their knowledge of mental illnesses, their treatments and appropriate first aid strategies.  
They also developed confidence in providing first aid to a person experiencing a mental health problem.

The role of the mental health first aid officer is not to provide counselling services but to be competent in supporting staff who may be experiencing a mental health problem/crisis until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves.

The councils now have posters detailing mental health first aid officers alongside their physical first aid officers and supporting collateral, reinforcing to all staff that they now have confidential and compassionate peer support to meet their mental health needs.