OHS Canada Magazine

Workplace first aid includes mental health

St. John Ambulance now includes mental-health awareness content in its standard and emergency first-aid courses, helping first responders recognize and respond to emergencies of psychological safety.

January 28, 2020
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By OHS Canada

Employees’ mental health can affect morale and productivity levels. (Courtesy of St. John Ambulance)

Being equipped to deal with the mental-health challenges of its employees is a necessity for workplaces across Canada, according to St. John Ambulance, a non-profit Canadian humanitarian organization.

The organization now includes mental-health awareness content in its standard and emergency first-aid courses. Aiming to help participants define mental health, the content helps participants recognize and respond to a mental-health emergency and refers them to mental-health resources.

“Mental-health problems and illnesses affect one in five Canadians in a given year,” says Jerry Rankin, CEO of St. John Ambulance. “As a first-aid leader, it is part of St. John Ambulance’s mission to focus on mental-health issues in the workplace, to improve the health, safety and quality of life of Canadians at work, home and play.”

St. John Ambulance also delivers several mental-health training programs, tailored to meet the needs of Canadian workplaces. Mental-health-trained colleagues and managers are best placed to be the first to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health issues in their co-workers.

A new one-day course titled Mental Health and Wellness for the Workplace is scheduled to launch in March.

Intended to equip employees in how to offer peer-to-peer support for a colleague who’s experiencing a mental-health injury, this one-day course helps participants better recognize when and how to take action if someone is in distress.

The course will tackle topics such as:

  • reducing stigma surrounding mental health issues in the workplace
  • providing participants with skills, comfort and knowledge to better identify someone in distress and feel empowered to take action to offer aid
  • having difficult conversations with co-workers about mental health, suicidality and trauma
  • building healthy workplaces to aid in the prevention of mental-health injuries.

Instructors for this course are qualified to handle the sensitive, triggering issues that can emerge when discussing serious mental-health issues.

At present, St. John Ambulance offers a mental-health first-aid course, aiming to provide assistance to a person developing a mental-health problem or experiencing a mental-health crisis.

It is provided until appropriate support is found or until the crisis is resolved.

A two-day course improves mental-health literacy and provides the skills and knowledge to participants to help better manage potential or developing mental health issues in themselves, family members, friends or colleagues.