Did you know that every school in Alberta has a first-aid kit and trained staff to perform first aid? As a registered nurse and former school health nurse, I can name off-by-heart some items that are likely stocked in your workplace first-aid kit: tweezers, gauze, tape, Band-Aids, arm sling, etc. Many now even have an automated external defibrillator (AED)! These handy items are perfect to have at the ready to manage those cuts, scrapes, bumps and bruises that pop up in schools, workplaces and in any other setting, really. So what does all this have to do with workplace wellness and why the fuss?
View from Another Angle
It’s interesting to note how physical first aid and workplace safety are standard practice in Canada. Not only that, a first-aid kit is often visible—it’s kept in a special place and protocols are regularly reviewed. We even have an inventory list in standard first-aid kits so that restocking is straightforward, simply repacking it according to what’s missing. But what about attending to those injuries or ailments in our schools that are less visible? How might we respond to an injury related to one’s own mental health? Is there an onsite first-aid kit for that, and if so, what’s on the inventory list?
This got me thinking…can you imagine a future where there will be a designated, trained staff member providing onsite mental health support or emotional first aid to staff in the workplace who are in need? As Graham Lowe describes in his blog, many case studies indicate the benefits that mental health has on workers and the successes of positive work environments.
Preparing a Mental Health First-Aid Kit
In the meantime, if your workplace was to put together a mental health first-aid kit and processes for staff mental health, what items might you consider putting in your kit? To get off to a great start in 2018, here are a few items I’d recommend stocking:
- Consider striking a division-wide staff wellness committee, if it isn’t already in place.
- Make psychological and social support for all staff a priority. The Not Myself Today initiative is a great resource to share with your team to help get you started.
- Establish clear leadership principles and expectations for staff so that everyone understands their role in promoting mental health in the workplace—take Kelli Littlechilds’ helpful points in her blog, for example.
- Develop opportunities for employee growth, using this resource to help you create wellness programs for your workplace.
- Promote and encourage staff to access your Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) to support their personal wellness.
- Discuss other potential strategies for support by connecting with an ASEBP workplace wellness liaison at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just as healthy students make better learners, it takes healthy staff in a safe and caring school environment for everyone to be their best selves too. Wishing you all the best as you build your mental health first-aid kit!