In 2022, 7.9 % of workplace sickness absences were due to mental health conditions. (1)
& Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. (2)
We do not need statistics to tell us to care about our employees. However, the above statistic from 2022 highlights the importance of tackling the barrier surrounding the discussion of mental health in the workplace. Although some may believe that work life and personal life are separate, the two are entangled and do affect one another. Creating a work environment where mental health discussions are encouraged builds stronger individuals and teams, and has the potential to save a life.
This is why at the end of November, two additional Action Renewables staff members undertook mental health first aid training ran by Headstogether in Holywood. The qualification is approved and licensed in Northern Ireland by the Public Health Agency, and our organisation now has three qualified members of staff (Annette Herty, Lana Moore and Jennifer Kuczaj). The two-day course contained learning material for a range of mental health issues that we may come across, along with promotion of prioritising self-care both in the workplace and at home. Instructors Patrick McIlwee and Angela Barratt were able to deliver difficult content in a light and digestible way incorporating group discussions, physical activities and presentations which made it an incredibly positive learning experience.
Lana Moore & Jennifer Kuczaj receiving their MHFA certificates alongside representatives from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission at the Headstogether training in November 2023.
The aims of Mental Health First Aid are to:
- Preserve life where a person may be at risk of harm.
- Provide help to prevent the mental health problem from becoming more serious.
- Promote recovery of good mental health.
- Provide comfort to a person with a mental health problem.
- To promote self-care.
It is important to highlight the stigma some still feel surrounding these discussions; Half of males (49%) and 40% of females reported having difficulty talking to other people about their own feelings and emotions. (3) If more organisations encourage Mental Health First Aid training and awareness, we can reduce these figures and work towards a healthier future, both personally and professionally.
- Lifeline is Northern Ireland’s crisis response helpline:
Website: https://www.lifelinehelpline.info/ Tel: 0808 808 8000
- Below is a link to the PHA website containing multiple resources. Login details are not required to access these resources.
1. Statistics, Office for National. Sickness absence in the UK labour market: 2022. [Online] [Cited: 13 12 2023.] https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/labourproductivity/articles/sicknessabsenceinthelabourmarket/2022#reasons-for-sickness-absence.
2. Mind. Mental Health Facts and Statistics. 2017.
3. Siobhan O’Neill, Margaret McLafferty and Paula Devine. Attitudes to mental health and suicide in Northern Ireland. 2022.