Mental health first aid improving health and bottom line for business

Feb 13, 2017

After finding mental health conditions consistently ranked in the top items claimed on its medical insurance, European household manufacturer Unilever has responded by investing in mental health first aid training for its managers.

Mental health first aid training helps managers build capability and confidence, to better support workers experiencing the symptoms of mental health conditions in the workplace.

Unilever found that awareness-raising about wellbeing at work is a healthy start, but having a trained manager available for employees to talk to about their mental health in a time of crisis is proving a much more effective strategy.

It's already seeing a measurable benefit, not only to the wellbeing of its workers, but also to its bottom line.

So far the company’s investment in creating a mentally healthy workplace has saved £10 for every £1 spent on training and support for all its UK line managers through a reduction in the number of sick days taken and managers spotting potential issues more quickly.

The response from employees has also been extremely positive.

Australian businesses can also see measurable benefits from investing in mental wellbeing in their workplaces.

A 2014 research study conducted by beyondblue and PwC into Australian workplaces found for every $1 invested in taking action to create a mentally healthy workplace, Australian companies see on average a $2.30 return in value.

As Unilever has found, investing in giving managers the skills they need to be able to lead by example can help create a more mentally healthy workplace.

To help workplaces get started, beyondblue runs the National Workplace Program, a mental health awareness and training resource aiming to increase the knowledge and skills of staff, managers, human resources (HR) and organisational leaders to address mental health conditions in the workplace.

The program has been shown to significantly:

  • increase awareness of mental health conditions
  • decrease stigma
  • improve attitudes about working constructively with people dealing with mental health conditions, and;
  • increase people’s confidence to assist someone to seek support.

Australia also has its own training provider, Mental Health First Aid, which has developed a range of mental health training programs and courses for Australian businesses.

The organisation provides face-to-face skills sessions, as well as some online learning, instructor training, information and support for managers and employees.

There are a range of other training programs available, both face-to-face and online, that can be tailored to any organisation’s needs.

Start taking action in your business

It can be tough for you to know what to do when someone in your team is experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. You might feel uncomfortable at times, or out of your depth.

However, supporting someone who is experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression at work can make an enormous difference to their recovery. Workplace mental health training can assist managers take this important step.

Find out more about mental health training options

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