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Does your first aider know the basics of a mental health emergency, too?

by , 29 May 2013
First aid is a crucial aspect of occupational health and safety. And in the UK, health and safety is of such importance that mental health first aid courses are now being offered, so that health and safety officers know how to recognise and respond to someone who's having a mental health crisis. Here's why this is a good idea...

Mental first aid is now being trained in the UK.
Sound odd? It's actually a good idea, as it's meant to help non-professionals defuse or calm down a volatile situation until professionals can arrive, says TheGadsdenTimes.
This includes crises related to substance abuse, which is important as employees who work while intoxicated are a threat to themselves and those around them, explains Kerusha Narothan, Managing Editor of the Health and Safety Advisor on FSPBusiness.
So, while you have a responsibility to protect your employees' health and safety under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, your employees also have responsibilities.
Are your employees aware of their responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act?
For example, they have a duty to inform you of any behaviour affecting health and safety in the workplace. 
And if they don't comply, they could end up with a R50,000 penalty, two years in jail or both for being in contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act or OHSA.
So employees must tell you if they're unable to perform their duties safely because of intoxication, medication or drugs.
But the UK's taking this a step further by implementing mental health first aid.
Here's why it's a good idea to train your first aider on the basics of 'mental health first aid'…
This means health and safety officers are trained to assess for risk of suicide or harm to the employee or others.
This is important because 'Just like a situation that requires CPR, someone who is qualified to help a person in crisis could save lives,' says TheGadsdenTimes.
Similarly, remember that your first aider's responsibility doesn't just include being responsible for the first aid box or simply putting a band aid on a cut, he must know what to do in an emergency, says FSPBusiness.
By knowing the signs of a mental health crisis emergency, like if employees suddenly 'snap' and start threatening the safety of themselves or others, your first aider will be better prepared to protect the health and safety of your employees until a trained professional arrives.

Click here to get the one vital element MISSING FROM 88% of all first aid training!

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