Mental health smartz: Courtney Sippel, Kerri Stuart, Georgina Haig, Mathhew Burke, Barry Dolan, Rachel Willmett, Tenny Blaikie, Miranda Hicks. Pic:Peta McEachern
Mental health smartz: Courtney Sippel, Kerri Stuart, Georgina Haig, Mathhew Burke, Barry Dolan, Rachel Willmett, Tenny Blaikie, Miranda Hicks. Pic:Peta McEachern

When it comes to the workplace, mental health training is just as important as learning first aid

TAKING care of your colleagues and employees is just as much about looking out for their mental wellbeing as well as their physical health.

EnVision Partners Chinchilla and People Smartz hosted a two-day Mental Health First Aid course last week to encourage local businesses to remove the stigma around mental health and learn how to support adults who are suffering from mental health problems.

The Mental Health First Aid course teaches adults how to provide initial support to friends, family and colleagues who are developing a mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis.

Mental Health First Aid Instructor Jenny Blaikie said over 800,000 Australians have participated in a Mental Health First Aid course and the feedback shows more and more Australians can see the beneift to looking after their mental health, as well as their physical health within the workplace.

“Physical first aid has become a staple of the community and businesses and like physical first aid, mental health first aid is given until the person receives professional help or until the crisis resolves,” Ms Blaikie said.

“The course is a two-day (12-hour) program involving face-to-face training. Participants will take home an abundance of knowledge and skills including learning about the signs and symptoms of common and disabling mental health problems in adults. They learn how to provide initial help, where and how to get professional help, what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective, and how to provide first aid in a crisis situation.”

“It’s important I mention the program is an education course, to learn how to give first aid to others, and not a therapy or support group. ”

“In other words, our course provides attendees with the skills needed to provide immediate and basic help and support to a friend, colleague, family member or stranger. ”

“The course is designed to benefit not just employers, but the community in general … I am sure many people in Chinchilla and the surrounding areas have experienced, or know of someone experiencing mental health problems, as a result of the drought. ”

“In the general community, as is in the workplace, early intervention and action is the key to working with people experiencing a mental health condition. This course provides participants with the skills and knowledge to act plus an action plan.”

Ms Blaikie said the course can also help promote better productivity within the workforce.

“Mental health is increasingly being recognised as a significant driver in loss of productivity, absenteeism and workplace issues. Business owners and managers who undertake the course have been able to identify and act to correct identified issues early — reducing the impact of mental health on the workplace. ”

“Unfortunately, when behaviours relating to a mental health conditions are displayed in the workplace, they can impact not only business performance, but everyone in the workplace.

Intrapreneur and influencer Elizabeth Torres-Russell is a recent Mental Health First Aid course participant and said through taking the course she learnt how to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health problems or a crisis such as thoughts of suicide.

“You are given the tools to provide initial support and how to access professional help,” she said.

EnVision principal partner Matthew Burke said he strongly believes mental health is something that the Western Downs can work on as a community.

“Over the past few years the awareness around mental health has increased. This increased awareness has not resulted in us developing any strategies on how to identify and more importantly how we can provide help,” he said.

“As accountants, we deal with a lot of people who might be struggling mentally especially during hard times such as the drought. The ability to identify if a person needs help and knowing what we can do to provide help is a necessity in our business.

“Envision hosted this event in order for some of our key staff to develop these skills but also to provide the opportunity for the Chinchilla community to become involved as well.”