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Mental health first aid

04 Oct 2019 / Wellbeing Print

Society backs mental-health and wellbeing training

Mental Health First Aid is evidence-based training that teaches people how to recognise mental-health problems earlier, offers support, and empowers the person having the difficulty to engage with evidence-based supports.

There is growing concern across the legal professions in Ireland and abroad about lawyer mental health and wellbeing. Recent research reveals that two-thirds of Irish solicitor survey respondents reported that stress negatively affects their ability to do their job.

Half said that their mental health had been affected to a high degree, leading to problems such as depression, insomnia, and anxiety.

Peer support

Peer support is valued by respondents, but it is a relatively untapped resource – the research shows that members know about, but rarely use, existing supports such as LawCare or Consult a Colleague.

Respondents saw a need for increased training and a focus on crisis-management skills regarding mental health, stress and trauma.

Stress-related mental illness is still hidden, and employees remain reluctant to open up and discuss it with their colleagues, friends or family.

Stigma

According to the Irish organisation See Change in its report, What is Stigma? A Guide to Understanding Mental-health Stigma, 46% of under 35-year-olds would conceal a mental-health difficulty, while 42% living in rural communities would conceal a mental-health difficulty from family, friends or colleagues – 4% higher than the national average.

Investing in the mental health of staff has the potential to reduce absenteeism, improve productivity, increase engagement, reduce errors, and potentially improve overall job satisfaction – and ultimately attract and retain the best talent.

Mental Health First Aid Ireland (MHFA ) is the only licensed provider of the service in Ireland and, in the last five years, has trained close to 6,000 people.

The company offers MHFA training throughout the country. In the corporate world, their list of clients is extensive.

Mental-health first aid

Now, Mental Health First Aid Ireland is partnering with the Law Society to make the MHFA more accessible to the legal community.

Firms such as William Fry are already using Mental Health First Aid training as a way of breaking down the barriers of stigma, improving confidence and the willingness to create more supportive and mentally healthier workplaces.

Learn more about MHFA courses and how to access its publicly funded or corporate rates at MHFA Ireland (www.mhfaireland.ie).

Donal Scanlan
Donal Scanlan is manager of Mental Health First Aid Ireland