Mental Health Training

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

Posted by on 25 Nov, 2020 in Mental Health |

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

As a mental health training provider who has been offering courses since 2015, we’ve had the privilege of working with a diverse range of industries across all business sectors. We’ve delivered in many venues 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 clients opt for individual delegate places through our open online and face-to-face courses. Some purchase one-off in-house courses and others require our training services on a larger scale as part of more comprehensive mental health and wellbeing plans.

Where to start?

Most clients recognise that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that commitment to mental health and wellbeing are long-term works in progress. With this in mind, it’s sometimes the case that clients want to start that journey but aren’t entirely sure where to start. In reality, there isn’t intrinsically a right or wrong way to start. Some clients will opt for an individual delegate place on our open courses so they can sample the learning experience. In contrast, others take a bottom-up approach and use shorter taster courses to establish employee interest. Some take a top-down approach by training senior leaders first. We always advocate that employers need to establish what they are trying to achieve first and foremost, otherwise we can end up with the tail wagging the dog. Once we understand the wellbeing needs of your business and the issues you are experiencing, we can tailor packages. We aim to meet your needs to maximum benefit, balanced against resources such as budgets and time scales. Sometimes it’s about maximising the snowball effect by having key people access our courses who may then promote and market the benefits internally to generate interest before commitment. This can be one of several strategies for over-coming stigma, culture, and other barriers to employee engagement by providing reassurance to others. Marketing courses internally within client businesses is as much a part of our maximising reach as the marketing we do as a training provider to prospective clients.

What courses?

There is no right or wrong way, but rather the right way for your business. However, one thing we do advocate is ensuring that gaps in knowledge and skills are closed. For example, suppose we train up Mental Health First Aiders, but don’t train managers in how to support their employee mental health, then we have a significant management skills gap within that business. For example, a Mental Health First Aider is unlikely to undertake a stress risk assessment with an employee, unless they too are a Manager. Stress risk assessment isn’t something we focus on within MHFA. However, we do focus on undertaking stress risk assessments in our Manager courses, because this is a task a Manager, unlike a Mental Health First Aider, is likely to do. They are two entirely different roles, with different expectations and responsibilities, albeit there is some overlap. We also advocate a process of capacity building within a business in a way to overcome potential stigma and fear barriers. Some employees experiencing mental health distress may not choose to go to their Line Manager, but in fact may feel more comfortable speaking to a Mental Health First Aider. We need the pool of supporting mental health ‘helpers’ to be as diverse as the workforce or at least as diverse as those in need of support.

Improving mental health across your organisation

Increasing mental health literacy is also an evidence-based protective factor for everyone’s mental health. With this in mind, we want to increase levels of mental health literacy across an entire workforce wherever we can, as this increases the organisation-wide protection. When we train portions of a workforce in mental health or train portions of people in mental health first responder roles, we create a group of people who others are likely to look towards when they need help and support. This we know is essential, but this should also sit alongside us as individuals having personal responsibility, knowledge and skills to support our own mental health self-care, and only by raising mental health literacy across everyone do we achieve this.

Our guarantee on training

From time to time, particularly in the current climate of unplanned absence due to Covid-19, delegates may not be able to attend their training as planned on the day – life happens! For our clients, we ensure everyone who was scheduled to participate in the training still receives it. We run a rolling program of open courses, so we allow any delegate who was listed on the original course register but was unable to attend on the day, a free of charge place on the next available open course. This guarantees the client’s full cohort has received the training as intended and avoiding the gap “I missed that training course because I was…”.

It’s important to understand that not every employee needs the same training course. Not everyone wants to be a Life Assisting Care Giver, Mental Health First Aider, or i-ACT Practitioner, so it’s important to find the right course for the individual, both in terms of their workplace role, existing knowledge of mental health (if any), and their levels of comfort in supporting others.

If you’d like to understand how Mind Matters can best meet your business mental health training needs, we’d be happy to have a discussion and explore the outcomes you seek to achieve.