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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.


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.