An Interview with Filtration’s Mental Health First Aider

Friday 5th May 2023

Mental health is something which many people struggle with throughout their lives, and this can have a significant impact on their daily lives. For the longest time mental health was something which people had to deal with in their own time, on their own. However at Filtration, we recognise how important it is to look after mental health in the workplace in order to support our employees through any troubles they may face. To be best positioned for this, we have a trained mental health first aider on staff who supports our team members through initiatives and support. Today we sat down with Sarah to find out a little more about what she does in her role as mental health first aider, and the importance of this role in the workplace.

What does a mental health first aider do?

The role of a Mental Health First Aider is to offer support and guidance through non-judgemental listening. At Filtration Ltd I run a monthly drop-in session which allows confidential conversations to take place where the team can check in on how they are feeling and discuss anything they may be finding emotionally challenging – this can be in relation to the workplace or just in general life. 

From this session, I am able to suggest steps they could take to action things like self-care or encourage them to access other support systems. It is a really good way to spot early signs of those who may be struggling with mental ill health to ensure they get the support they need quickly. 

I always feel really privileged when people open up to me and take the role very seriously. It is great to be able to help people and to be the point of contact for anyone who may be having a difficult time or who just needs someone to talk to.

Why do you think it’s important for workplaces to have a mental health first aider?

I think it is really important because it creates a really positive culture and sends a clear message that the organisation believes in talking freely about mental health and supporting their employee’s well-being.

It reduces stigma and teaches people how to recognise those crucial warning signs of mental ill health, often resulting in early intervention which enables recovery. 

I love the concept that whilst we would have a physical first aider in the workplace for any accidents or injuries, you can also have a designated point of contact there to support mental health, which is equally as important.

What are the significant challenges that come with mental health in your industry?

This is a very fast-paced and competitive industry which can sometimes take its toll on people and lead to burn out. It is also quite a male-dominated industry and sadly society's expectations and traditional gender roles often mean men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems. We want to send a clear message that talking about your well-being and emotions are encouraged and supported, for everyone. 

I think in general, we have lived through very challenging times recently, and coming out of the pandemic more people are struggling with their mental health than ever. As an employer we see our people as our most valuable asset, and our duty to support them.

What should someone do if they’re experiencing mental health issues at work?

I would really encourage anyone who is struggling with their mental health at work to have an open and honest conversation with a trusted person in their workplace. 

There are so many resources an employer can turn to in order to support someone, they just need to be given the chance to. If you can confide in a colleague or your manager how you are feeling, they can start helping you. 

They may be able to provide access to talking therapies, temporarily reduce your workload or make other reasonable adjustments to support you. Many businesses will have tools and procedures in place to support colleagues with their mental health and having that conversation could be the first step in the direction of recovery.

How do you recommend businesses improve their mental health provisions?

I really think all businesses should have a Mental Health First Aider, the course is really accessible and delivered by Mental Health England

Currently 1 in 6 workers are dealing with mental health problems, so this is really something that needs to be a consideration for businesses. 

I think it is also really important to create a culture that allows staff to be open about their mental health, by having specific policies in place and by taking prompt, positive action when an employee needs it.

How can Filtration help to support discussions around mental health in the industry?

We are really strong advocates for mental health and share a lot of the things we do online to open up conversations and to demonstrate to other businesses the importance of mental health support in the workplace. 

We take part in national awareness weeks that raise the profile of organisations that talk about mental health, as well as sharing campaigns and ideas. We are also going to have more qualified Mental Health First Aiders within the business so we can provide more support to the team. 

I think the most important thing we can do is keep ‘people’ at the heart of the business, encouraging and supporting well-being and creating an environment where these types of discussions are welcomed.

Mental Health at Filtration

Whilst we support our staff's mental health through initiatives throughout the year we are also taking part in Mental Health Awareness Week, Mental Health Foundation’s annual campaign focusing on different themes within mental health. 

We strive to continue our support for mental health in the workplace as we would any health issue.

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