RedArc is launching a new service to companies to help support mental health first aiders.
RedArc’s MHFA support service will be led by an experienced registered mental health nurse and is based on the principles of clinical supervision and includes both group and one-to-one sessions.
This new service follows a pilot project that RedArc has conducted internally. Here this support service was offered fifteen MHFAs within their group. RedArc says that everyone reported that their confidence in the role had increased, and all valued having access to a mental health nurse for guidance to help their colleagues as well as support for themselves.
Mental Health First Aid England, the largest provider of mental health first aid training in the UK, has alone already trained 500,000 individuals and is aiming to reach 1 in 10 people.
RedArc says this could leave a large cohort of these of employees, who are taking up voluntary roles, feeling unsupported and with concerns about how best to assist colleagues with mental health issues. It adds the need for professional support is only going to increase, particularly with the mental health pressures that have arisen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
RedArc’s support service offers:
- Small monthly group sessions. This encourages an organisation’s MHFAs to network as a group and provide peer support, as well as being a forum to share concerns, learnings, useful sources of information, and ensure MHFAs understand and manage the boundaries of their role.
- MHFAs will come across a wide range of issues and they can’t be expected to know about all available support. Expert mental health nurses can give specific advice and guidance on support available, be that within internal employee benefits or external support such as the NHS Crisis Team or specialist charities
- Individual guidance is given to MHFAs, where they’re able to discuss personal concerns and receive advice as well as sign-posting to appropriate services and resources for their own wellbeing.
A study by The University of Nottingham & Institution of Occupational Safety and Health revealed that many MHFAs experience similar concerns to those in RedArc’s findings – with specific issues around lack of clarity over boundaries and scope of work.
RedArc managing director Christine Husbands says: “The position of an MHFA is a voluntary one and is in addition to an individual’s day-to-day role. As this individual is not a mental health practitioner, it is absolutely vital that they have clear parameters and effective support in place.
Without the right support, the responsibility of helping others can sometimes become a heavy burden and cause the MHFA to question their role and easily become detrimental to their own mental health.”
She adds: “MHFAs can be a key asset within an organisation’s mental health strategy but they are not immune from the pressures of the workplace or everyday life themselves.
“Every organisation that has encouraged its employees to become MHFAs and invested in their training, should ensure that it continues to offer access to regular and ongoing professional support, to safeguard both the MHFAs themselves as well as enabling them to better help their colleagues.”