Many Mental Health First Aiders, mental health and wellbeing champions feel isolated and overwhelmed by the calls and conversations they are having with colleagues and staff members who are struggling.
Having launched our Wellbeing Practitioners Network in the summer, we found the key barriers and challenges for mental health and wellbeing leads can be summarised in four points: -
1. The responsibility and worry that goes with the role were not expected to be so high. For example, worrying that the response given was correct after a difficult conversation, or worrying it was just not enough.
2. The uncertainty of not knowing what the next call or the next chat is going to be about causes anxiety after some experience in the role. This can be compounded by having no one to debrief with afterward, however, we know some companies have excellent in-house support and supervision.
3. The worry about those who have confided and shared with us, then the follow-up conversations and check-ins are distracting and get in the way of work. Although done with a big heart and well-meaning of course, but it quickly becomes clear that it takes time to refocus back to work tasks. It's very difficult to go from a serious discussion with someone confiding in you and then get straight back to work.
4. Stress and pressure builds because more time is needed than planned or predicted, and it is hard to predict such a need.
Some companies have been quick and innovative, creating their own in-house wellbeing support networks or bringing in our Wellbeing Practitioners Network (WPN) meeting the need for CPD, learning, and emotional support. This is an area that most employee assistance programs don’t provide help with, our feedback showed that most people are reluctant to use an EAP due to it being functional, not simple or quick enough and not personal.
Sourcing the right support that offers personal and professional development, mutual support, plus sharing best practices will develop expertise not only for the individual but also for the organisation as a whole.