Why You Need to Include Mental Health in Your First Aid Needs Assessment

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    A first aid needs assessment is a requirement for all businesses but there is no standard set by HSE as the provisions each business will need to make will vary depending on the nature of work and number of employees.

    However, there is one area of first aid that can be considered a necessity for any and every workplace – mental health.

    What is a First Aid Needs Assessment?

    A first aid needs assessment helps employers understand what first aid arrangements need to be put in place within their place of work.

    The assessment should carefully consider the nature of work carried out within the business as well as the hazards and risks that may be present. As a result, you will be able to decide what provisions need to be put in place such as first aid equipment, facilities and personnel.

    The minimum across all businesses would be a trained first aider, a fully stocked HSE-compliant first aid kit and an accident book.

    How Can You Assess Mental Health in the Workplace?

    Mental health is an increasing issue across most workplaces, accounting for over half of work absences which is costing businesses billions of pounds every year.

    Therefore, it’s important that employers are aware of the problem and can identify and tackle it.

    When conducting your first aid needs assessment you will need to consider mental health especially in high-stress, demanding workplaces.

    It is even more of a risk in certain industries such as social care, charities and health sectors where workers may be interacting with members of the public who have serious mental health illnesses. It is important to address this in the first aid needs assessment so that you can decide what precautions may need to be put in place to protect both the workers and the public.

    First, you need to evaluate what the risks are in the workplace and you need to know how to identify stressed employees or those struggling with ill mental health.

    It may be that there are certain periods in the year where there is a higher risk of ill mental health such as busy periods or during end of year reviews. There may also be specific identifiable factors that cause depression, stress or anxiety in your workplace such as tight deadlines, micro-management, bullying or lack of communication.

    Much like a risk assessment, once you have acknowledged the potential cause(s) of danger, you will then need to take appropriate action to reduce this risk.

    What Steps Should You Take to Tackle Mental Health at Work?

    The most immediate action that you can take in combating mental health at work is to erase the stigma associated with it. Often employees may suffer in silence due to embarrassment or fear of being treated differently, so, as an employer, it is your duty to reassure your workers and encourage them to approach you should they be struggling with ill mental health.

    HSE have recently released a Talking Toolkit which offers comprehensive guidance to employees when it comes to starting a conversation with workers. This is a great starting point and can help create a more engaged, healthy workforce, boost productivity and save money.

    Mind also have a free resource that can help you create a Wellness Action Plan and apply it to your workplace.

    Following these discussions, you may decide that it is necessary to have trained personnel within the business who can identify symptoms of mental ill health and provide appropriate support to those employees who need it.

    Furthermore, if you want to successfully reduce ill mental health at work, then you need to look wider than just training a mental health first aider and speaking to your employees.

    You should also consider creating a company policy that outlines your company approach to mental health which would include things like:

    This will show employees that you are taking the issue seriously which, itself, can be extremely reassuring and supportive for those who are struggling with mental health issues.
    It will also provide comfort to employees whose role may involve working with people that have mental health problems as it will ensure that they are well-equipped to cope and are kept as safe as possible.

    Mental health is a tough and sensitive topic, so it needs to handled diligently and with care. If you require professional support from a health and safety consultant, then we are here to help. From implementing a mental health policy to advising on how to best support employees, we can guide you through every step. Call us today on 0845 2626 260 for more information.

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