Mental Health First Aid Ireland has published a series of free resources to provide support to those whose colleagues, family or friends are struggling with anxiety relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Providing mental health first aid in the workplace can be challenging and with current social restrictions in place, there are some additional challenges facing employers, employees and those concerned about family, friends or neighbours.
Three publications have been compiled by MHFA Ireland entitled: Providing MHFA in the time of social distancing, Dealing with Covid-19 anxiety and Assisting someone distressed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which are available to download for free at www.mhfaireland.ie. The publications are designed to help members of the public provide the means to provide initial support to someone who is experiencing distress related to the COVID-19 crisis and resulting isolation.
Providing MHFA in the time of social distancing outlines the steps someone should take in order to provide support via phone, video call or text message. The publication talks about the signs to look out for, how to listen and communicate properly and how to prepare for the conversation such as ensuring the call or video chat is private and that no family or colleagues can hear what is being said.
Dealing with COVID-19 anxiety explains how those experiencing heightened anxiety can implement self-help methods to manage their symptoms. Seeking social support is highlighted as an important aspect of managing anxiety as well as adopting a healthy lifestyle and learning to accept some levels of uncertainty.
Assisting someone distressed by the Covid-19 pandemic discusses how many people will be spending most of their time at home, with family members or in shared households and how they can provide support to those they live with. The role of a mental health first aider is to assist the person until appropriate professional help is received and the document lists a number of useful contacts for those experiencing a mental health emergency such as suicidal thoughts.
Speaking about the series of documents, Mental Health First Aid Ireland Manager Donal Scanlan said, “A lot of what is in the documents is what we teach during our two-day courses and they are really useful resources for people who may not know how to deal with a sudden onset of emotional distress experienced by a relative, friend, neighbour or colleague. Most of us are used to seeing our families, friends and colleagues in the flesh multiple times per week, however, without that physical connection, vital cues of a mental health difficulty can be missed. We hope that by publishing this content and making it widely available, that people will better recognise the signs to look out for, even over a video chat or text message, and will be able to confidently talk to that person about how they are feeling. To download the MHFA resources for free, see www.MHFAIreland.ie/resources
“We are also running a survey that will help assess how working at home for an extended period is affecting the Irish workforce. This survey will help us build a bigger, more accurate picture of how homeworking is affecting our working lives through these unprecedented times and provide useful data to support business. We encourage anyone who is currently working from home to participate in the survey, which can be accessed at www.MHFAIreland/News”