Advocating a ‘Whole Business Approach’ to Mental Health Training, by Jane McNeice

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Endorsement of a Whole Business Approach to Mental Health Training by Jane McNeice

As a mental health training provider that has been offering courses since 2015, we have had the privilege of working with a wide variety of industries across all lines of business. We have delivered in many places, from small community halls, churches, airports, state-of-the-art office suites to high security environments, and met some fascinating people including Benedictine monks! Some of our customers opt for individual places thanks to our open online and face-to-face courses. Some purchase one-off in-house courses; others require our training services on a larger scale as part of broader mental health and wellbeing plans.

Where to start

Most clients realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that the commitment to mental health and wellbeing is a long-term goal. With that in mind, there are times when customers want to start this journey but aren’t entirely sure where to start. In reality there is no right or wrong way to get started. Some customers opt for an individual participant place in our open courses so that they can try out the learning experience. In contrast, others take a bottom-up approach and use shorter trial courses to determine employee interest. Some take a top-down approach by training leaders first. We always advocate that first and foremost employers must determine what they want to achieve, otherwise the tail can wag the dog. As soon as we understand your company’s wellbeing needs and the problems that have arisen, we can tailor packages. We strive to meet your needs to the maximum and to weigh them against resources such as budgets and time scales. Sometimes it comes down to maximizing the snowball effect by having key individuals access our courses who can then promote and market the benefits internally to generate interest prior to engagement. This can be one of several strategies to overcome stigma and other barriers to employee engagement by giving others security. Internal marketing courses within the customer business are just as much part of our maximum reach as the marketing that we carry out as a training provider for potential customers.

Which courses?

There is no right or wrong way, but the right way for your company. However, we advocate closing knowledge and skills gaps. For example, let’s say we train mental health first responders, but we don’t train managers on how to support the mental health of their employees. Then we have a significant management skill gap in this company. For example, a mental health first responder is unlikely to conduct a stress risk assessment with an employee unless they are also a manager. Assessing stress risk is not something we focus on at MHFA. However, we focus on conducting stress risk assessments in our managerial courses as this is a task that a manager is likely to do as opposed to a mental health first responder. They are two completely different roles with different expectations and responsibilities, although there is some overlap. We also advocate a process of capacity building within a company to overcome potential barriers to stigmatization and fear. Some employees with mental health problems may not choose their manager, but they may be more comfortable speaking to a mental health first responder. We need a pool of supportive mental health “helpers” that is as diverse as the workforce, or at least as diverse as those in need.

Improve mental health in your company

Improving mental health literacy is also an evidence-based protective factor for everyone’s mental health. With this in mind, we want to improve mental health literacy for the entire workforce wherever possible as this increases organization-wide protection. When we train portions of a mental health workforce or portions of people in mental health first aid roles, we create a group of people that others are likely to look to when they need help and support. We know this is essential, but it also stands by our side as individuals with personal responsibility, knowledge and skills to support our own self-sufficiency in mental health, and only by improving literacy in the Mental health in all we achieve this.

Our guarantee for training

From time to time, especially in the current climate of unplanned absence due to Covid-19, delegates may not be able to attend their training on their day as planned – life happens! For our customers, we ensure that everyone who should attend the training continues to receive it. We run an ongoing program of open courses so that any participant who was listed in the original course register but was unable to attend that day will have a free place in the next available open course. This guarantees that the entire cohort of the client received the training as intended, and avoids the “I missed this training because I …” gap.

It is important to understand that not every employee needs the same training course. Not everyone wants to be a life sustaining carer, mental health first responder, or i-ACT practitioner. Hence, it is important to find the right course for the individual, both in terms of their role in the workplace and their existing knowledge of mental health (if any) and their level of comfort in helping others.

If you’re interested in understanding how Mind Matters can best meet your mental health training needs, we’d love to hear from you and examine the results you want to get.

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