Mental Health First Aider - What it means to me

30 Jan 10:00 by Oliver Lewis


As a child growing up in a rugby-obsessed town, attending a school that boasts eight British and Irish Lions and many more Welsh rugby internationals in both codes, there wasn’t much else on people’s lips. Despite the very same town and school being devastated by a spate of suicides that left the town reeling there was still no mention of mental wellbeing in schools, at rugby clubs or at home. It was chalked down to bad parenting, drugs and broken relationships.  No link was drawn to possible mental health issues.  Mental illness was seen as something only a “nutter” could suffer from: a sign of weakness that couldn’t and wouldn’t trouble our valley and mining heritage.

Thankfully, the world has evolved (almost universally) to a point where it is a sign of ultimate strength to be able to come out and talk about personal struggles.  Some companies are advocating the use of ‘self-help’ or ‘personal’ days off to focus on mental wellbeing.  There is still a long way to go.  Legal and Recruitment are two sectors that are still a fair bit behind the curve.

 In a survey conducted by Legal and General, over 70% of people would leave their current employer for a competitor that had more comprehensive mental health support and training programs - if all other things were equal.   Nearly 75% of Millennials would prioritise applying for organisations with mental health and wellbeing policies in place. https://bit.ly/2RBGZG6

So, what does this all mean I hear you ask? Well, in my view it is clear the best and brightest truly cares about their own well-being and the well-being of their friends and colleagues in the workplace.  In a world where retention is becoming increasingly important, there are a few small steps that can improve your well-being policies.

Here at Laurence Simons Search, I am the mental health first aider (MHFA).  I attended a two-day course developed by MHFA England and run by St John’s Ambulance to receive my qualification.  What it means in our business is no matter the seniority, no matter the issue regarding their own wellbeing or concerns over a colleague each person has the opportunity to share confidentially with a qualified mental health first aider – me.  

This is our “starter for 10” and an easy step to take.  Compound this with a more robust well-being policy that allows people to have bad days, that understands that nobody actually is Superman - and being superman doesn’t always lead to good future results (see Henry Cavill in the Witcher) -  then you are now on the right path.  In the early Noughties, blown over from the West coast of our Atlantic cousins, came the fitness and wellness boom that saw people who had never seen an avocado or quinoa and had never cared how many pull-ups they could do or how fast they could run 5K, suddenly grasp the nation – and the results show that this spiked the economy, people worked harder, felt better and generally did better work.

Fast forward to the beginning of the Twenties and mental health is as important, if not more important than physical health. And once MHFAs become the norm, and they will in April of this year, companies will understand the importance of ‘minding your mind’. The world is changing fast and that is bringing new challenges, and those who adapt quickest and realise the importance of these changes will come out on top.

There are many reasons why I chose to work at Laurence Simons Search, none more than their commitment to wellness and taking care of each employee. If you have any questions or feel like your business isn’t treating you like a valued member of the team please feel free to reach out. Oliver Lewis - oliver.lewis@laurencesimons.com