Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace

The Marine Biological Association is taking steps to improve mental health support for those at its HQ in Citadel Hill, Plymouth, with the training of Mental Health First Aiders.

What is a Mental Health First Aider?

Mental Health First Aiders have multiple roles within the workplace.

Firstly, they act as a point of contact for people experiencing mental health issues, providing confidential support and guidance to their colleagues.

Secondly, Mental Health First Aiders act as advocates for better mental health and support within a workplace, with the aim of reducing stigma and enacting positive change.

What can I expect from a Mental Health First Aider?

L-R Nick Pope, Lucy Hawker, David Johns, Michael Cunliffe

Mental Health First Aiders are not trained therapists or counsellors, and as such, cannot give clinical diagnoses.

However, Mental Health First Aiders can;

  • Help identify the symptoms and causes of mental health problems
  • Suggest ways that mental health issues can be resolved
  • Provide guidance and signpost the best outlets for support

Who are the MBA Mental Health First Aiders?

The Mental Health First Aiders within the MBA are;

  • Alix Harvey
  • Cathy Harshaw
  • David Johns
  • Lucy Hawker
  • Marianne Wootton
  • Michael Cunliffe
  • Nick Pope
  • Yousef Touhami

Each has been trained ((FAQ) Level 3 Award in Mental Health: Workplace First Aider (RQF)) in how to provide mental health support to their colleagues. Of the course, David Johns, Head of the Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey said;

“We should all be more aware of our own, and our colleagues’, mental health and the importance it plays in our lives. Things can arise that hit us hard, and to an outsider it’s not always obvious what’s going on. The training helped me to understand various mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, how to recognise them and how I can help sign-post and support people. Now we’re trained, we are available for confidential chats, and will offer a supportive ear and helpful guidance.”

Head of Operations, Katrina Houghton, added;

“We are improving our mental health support with a team of trained Mental Health First Aiders. Well done to these staff who have come from within our existing first aiders, the Health and Safety Committee and the Health and Wellbeing Group. In addition, the Quiet Room is available to use on Floor 2, with a selection of recommended ‘reading well’ books available. Additional mental health awareness training is being explored for later this year.”