What should a mental health first aider not do?

Learn what a mental health first aider should not do in order to effectively support individuals in the workplace.

In the workplace, mental health first aiders play a crucial role in supporting their colleagues who be experiencing mental health issues. However, it is equally important to understand what a mental health first aider should not do. We’ll to shed light on the boundaries and limitations that mental health first aiders should be aware of, ensuring that their support remains effective and appropriate. By understanding these guidelines, mental health first aiders can create a safe and supportive environment for those in need.

Mental health is becoming an increasingly important topic of discussion. Employers are recognizing the need for mental health support in the workplace, and one way they are addressing this issue is by appointing mental health first aiders. These individuals receive training to provide initial assistance to colleagues who may be experiencing mental health challenges. However, it’s crucial to understand what a mental health first aider should not do in order to ensure the wellbeing of those seeking help.

What is a Mental Health First Aider?

A mental health first aider is someone trained to provide initial support and guidance to individuals experiencing emotional distress or struggling with their mental health. They are not intended to force a person into discussing their problems or disclose personal information against their will. Instead, they should be a source of comfort and understanding, helping colleagues navigate through difficult times without causing further harm.

What a Mental Health First Aider Should NOT Do

1. Diagnose or provide therapy

A mental health first aider should not attempt to diagnose or provide therapy for individuals in need. It is important to recognise the limitations of your role and refer individuals to qualified professionals who can offer proper diagnosis and treatment.

2. Break confidentiality without consent

  • Breaking confidentiality without consent is a violation of trust and can have serious consequences for individuals seeking support.
  • It’s important for mental health first aiders to understand the boundaries around confidentiality and respect the privacy of those they are assisting.

It’s crucial that the first aider for mental health:

  • Maintains strict confidentiality unless there is a risk of harm to themselves or others.
  • Seeks permission before sharing any personal information with others.
  • Respects the individual’s right to privacy and ensure that their information remains confidential.

3. Ignore or dismiss someone’s concerns

Ignoring or dismissing someone’s concerns can have detrimental effects on their mental health and well-being. As a mental health first aider, it is important to be attentive and responsive to these concerns. Do not brush them off or invalidate their experiences. Instead, provide a safe space for them to express themselves.

  • Listen actively without interrupting
  • Show empathy and understanding
  • Avoid making judgmental comments
  • Encourage open communication
  • Offer support and resources

4. Make promises or guarantees

When it comes to mental health first aid, it’s important not to make promises or guarantees. While you can provide support and resources, you cannot guarantee a specific outcome or promise complete recovery. Instead, focus on empathetic listening and connecting individuals with professional help if needed. As a mental health first aider, avoid making promises or guarantees about confidentiality. It is crucial to respect privacy and maintain confidentiality unless there is an immediate risk of harm to the individual or others. Always obtain consent before sharing any personal information with others, ensuring trust and maintaining the person’s dignity in their journey towards better mental health.

5. Minimise or trivialise mental health issues

When it comes to mental health issues, it is crucial for a mental health first aider not to minimise or trivialise the seriousness of these conditions. Each person’s experience is unique, and their struggles should be acknowledged and treated with empathy and respect. Rather than downplaying the significance of mental health issues, a mental health first aider should actively listen without judgment, validate the individual’s emotions, and encourage them to seek appropriate professional help if needed. By creating a safe space for open conversation about mental health, we can contribute to breaking down stigmas and promoting overall wellbeing in the workplace.

6. Offer unsolicited advice

Offering unsolicited advice can often do more harm than good. As a mental health first aider, it is important to listen and validate someone’s experiences without immediately jumping in with solutions or suggestions. Instead, focus on providing support and encouraging the person to seek professional help if needed.While it may be tempting to offer advice based on personal experiences, remember that everyone’s journey is unique. Avoid assuming that what worked for you will work for someone else. Instead, empower individuals by helping them explore their own options and make informed decisions about their mental health care.

7. Neglect self-care

Neglecting self-care is a common mistake that mental health first aiders should avoid. It is important for them to prioritise their own well-being in order to effectively support others. Some key points to remember include:

  • Taking regular breaks and setting boundaries
  • Seeking support and supervision from professionals
  • Engaging in self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies

Proper training is crucial for mental health first aiders as it equips them with the necessary skills and knowledge to support individuals in need. Empathy and non-judgment play a vital role in providing effective assistance, fostering an environment where people feel safe to seek help. Creating a supportive workplace requires ongoing effort and commitment from everyone involved, promoting open communication and understanding. Together, we can make a difference by prioritising mental health and wellbeing in our everyday interactions.

At Wellbeing in Your Office we offer a variety of First Aid for Mental Health Courses at different levels both in person and online. Our First Aid for Mental Health Courses are Ofqual approved.