MHFAIDER UPDATE

Welcome to the first Mental Health First Aider update for 2021. We are grateful for your ongoing engagement, and look forward to providing you with updates and opportunities.

Our MHFAiders are a valued part of our community. Your commitment to mental health is always important, but after a challenging 2020, dare we say that it’s more important than ever for us to stay connected and show support for others.  The knowledge and skills you hold may come in helpful during this time.

Each new year represents a chance to reset, evaluate and define our goals. This is true for individuals and organisations alike. People frequently make resolutions around health and fitness, career, finances and social aspirations. We think it’s just as important to factor in mental health.

In 2021, you’ll receive an email update from Mental Health First Aid Australia every two months. We will feature news, stories and interviews of interest from Instructors, community groups, workplaces, and individuals, so that you can see the real difference that our training makes every day in the community.

We will also update you on upcoming MHFA events and upskill opportunities, to keep you informed, engaged and connected.

MHFA COMMUNITY UPDATE

THE COUNTRY FIRE AUTHORITY (CFA)

Protecting the wellbeing of those who protect others

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) is a volunteer fire and emergency services organisation, that works to keep Victorians safe from fire and other emergencies. CFA has been delivering Mental Health First Aid training to their staff and volunteers since 2019 as part of a broader mental health literacy program, aiming to reduce mental health stigma across the organisation and foster a culture of openness, care and wellness.

To celebrate the incredible work of CFA, and to acknowledge the anniversary of the catastrophic 2019-2020 bushfires, Acting Community Engagement Manager Erin Healy sat down with CFA Wellbeing Consultant and MHFA Instructor Naomi Engelke, to learn more about CFA’s mission to train staff and volunteers across Victoria as MHFAiders, and to hear about Naomi’s experience as an MHFA Instructor.

Watch the video to hear Naomi talk about the communities she works with and the people she has trained as MHFAiders in her role as an MHFA Instructor.

To find out more about CFA’s range of wellbeing support services visit https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/health-and-wellbeing

Click to read the full CFA Case Study or view the other videos from our
CFA conversation series.

MHFA WORKPLACE UPDATE

‘Getting on with it’
Will your workplace be mentally healthy in 2021?

As we return to work, school and home routines for 2021, it is normal for us to question what this year will bring – given the challenges the world has been experiencing. With the pandemic far from over and incremental shifts towards new ways of operating, it is important for us to maintain mentally healthy workplaces. This includes having an awareness of work-life balance, creating positive cultures and supporting staff when problems arise.

Early modelling suggests that COVID-19 will have significant impacts on the rates and severity of suicide risk, mental ill health and other stressors. Workplaces can play a role in reducing the stress placed on employees, and building protective factors that can lead to happier, healthier and safer staff. This in turn benefits productivity and bottom lines. Every workplace should consider mental health as part of their broader wellbeing and safety strategy. If you haven’t already planned to do this, now is the time. It also pays to revisit your strategy from time to time.

Changing work conditions and environments can cause challenges, but can also present new opportunities for flexibility and innovation. To respond to this, we have written an article to guide workplaces and employers through issues such as returning to work; providing flexible work arrangements; maintaining positive culture; and engaging in Mental Health First Aid Programs. Included is a handy check list for achieving mentally healthy workplaces in 2021. Click below to read the full article.

ALGEE IN ACTION

Each update will feature an “ALGEE in Action” section.  Designed to help reinforce the key elements of MHFA training, each update will focus on one of the 5 individual sections that make up the ALGEE model. As this is our first update, it makes sense to start with the first step – approaching someone you are concerned about.

Approach

Are you concerned about a family member, a friend or work colleague? You may have been concerned for some time and have attempted a conversation with them about their mental health. They may have been reluctant to talk, perhaps even assuring you that they were fine. If this situation sounds familiar and you are still concerned you may need to approach them gently, over a period of time, before they are ready to talk to you or seek help.

In this type of situation, what you don’t do can be as helpful as what you do.

Don’t give up, just because they are not ready to talk to you or seek help yet, doesn’t mean they won’t want to talk or seek help in the future.

Don’t push, but do stay in touch. Someone who is unsure or resistant to seeking help is likely to need a gentle approach. Check in on them regularly, but talk about other topics, e.g. their weekend, politics, current news, their family. If you are ‘always’ talking about mental health they may shut down as soon as you start speaking.

Your number one goal should be to maintain the relationship so that when they are ready they will feel comfortable to come back and seek support from you.

Remember, it is not your responsibility to get them to professional help. All you can do, is point them in the right direction so that they can take the steps needed to look after themselves.

CAN YOU HELP?

Join the MHFAider Advisory Group

MHFA Australia are proud to be establishing our first MHFAider Network Advisory group!

The purpose of the advisory group is to help ensure that the events and up-skill opportunities that we are planning meet the needs of MHFAiders across Australia.

We are looking for advisory group participants to attend two online meetings per year, with the first meeting to be held online via Zoom in February 2021.

If you would like to join our 2021 MHFAider Advisory group and contribute to the continued growth of our MHFAider Network, please email community@mhfa.com.au with your name, contact information, availability and tell us why you’d like to be involved.

We encourage you to join our Mental Health First Aider Network Facebook group, to stay connected with other MHFAiders across Australia. Click here to join.

Do you have an MHFA story to share?

Throughout 2021, we will be sharing more stories about Mental Health First Aid and the importance of good mental health. This will include stories from individuals who have completed our training and workplaces and community groups that are implementing Mental Health First Aid Courses within their organisations.

 If you are interested in sharing your MHFA story, send us an email and we’ll be in touch.

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