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  • Writer's pictureAlexander James

Mental Health First Aiders ‘On The Rise’

The number of mental health first aiders in workplaces around the UK is on the rise, a new Guardian study has revealed, with nearly half a million people in the country having now been through a Mental Health First Aid England programme.

It may come as stark news to some, since it reflects the numbers of people in Britain who are now experiencing mental distress.

Requests sent by the news source to every FTSE 100 company revealed that they have trained over 10,000 people, while businesses of all other sizes are now appointing people who can be approached confidentially by anyone experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and other conditions.

Big firms are currently paving the way, however, with more than half the FTSE 100 companies saying they have these first aiders. National Grid and Severn Trent both have programmes in place to train over 1,000 people, while Lloyds Banking Group has 2,500 - all by next year.

Some workplace health experts have warned that some of the incoming recruits may not be the best people for this particular role, however, and added that the first aiders themselves would need support to ensure their own health and wellbeing. It’s also worth remembering that a two-day training course won’t produce instant experts, they further said.

“There are pros and cons. Anything that raises people’s understanding of mental health is a really good thing. But it’s not sufficient to tackle mental illness in the workplace,” consultant clinical psychologist at UCL Dr Jo Billings explained.

Some businesses are taking it a step further, it seems, by offering free subscriptions to the likes of Unmind and Headspace, as well as cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling for staff.

If you have been feeling weighed down for whatever reason and feel as though you may benefit from talking to someone, get in touch with Wimbledon anxiety therapist The Mindful Therapist.

Learning more about mindfulness can prove really beneficial as a way of reducing stress by bringing your attention to the thoughts, feelings and emotions that you’re experiencing in the present moment through breathing and meditation.

An eight-week programme could help you treat anxiety and similar conditions without medication, using techniques like meditation, yoga and mindfulness exercises. People often say they come away feeling more energised and more engaged in their work, as well as feeling less anxious and sleeping better, while displaying fewer physical symptoms of stress.

Mindful breathing is a great place to start, since it can be done sitting down or standing up.

All you have to do is keep still and focus on your breath for a minute, breathing in and out slowly for around six seconds. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, letting go of your thoughts and following your breath, focusing on the sensations of it as it moves around your body.

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