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/ 10 Oct 2022

Why every organisation should have a mental health first aider

Today, 10th October 2022, is World Mental Health Day. A day dedicated to global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against social stigma. Hanne & Co’s mental health first aider, Emily Cooper, explains why it is such an important role within an organisation.

Emily Cooper

BD & Marketing Manager

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Mental health statistics in the legal profession

Did you know that 69% of legal professionals have experienced mental ill-health, and yet of those that had, only half of them said they had talked about it at work? This comes from new research by legal mental health charity LawCare.

When asked why they felt they couldn’t talk about mental health at work, the three main reasons people gave were:

  1. Fear of stigma
  2. Career implications
  3. Financial & reputational consequences

With mental health being one of the leading causes of sickness absence, employers should be looking into what they can do to alleviate mental ill health at work, as well as fostering an environment in which people feel able to talk about their mental health without negative repercussions.

At Hanne & Co, we want to be proactive in breaking the silence and the stigma. To achieve this, the first step was to appoint a dedicated mental health first aider to be a first responder for employees and an advocate for change in the firm.

The role of a mental health first aider


What is a mental health first aider?

“A mental health first aider is there to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide support to the person experiencing problems including signposting them to appropriate resources and professionals. They are not only the point of contact in the workplace for any employees experiencing mental health issues or emotional distress, but also responsible for creating a positive mental health culture within the organisation. Promoting positive mental health obviously can’t be achieved by one person alone, however, as the first mental health first aider at the firm, my aim is to start the conversation. We are at the start of our journey and will need everyone in the firm’s input to continue to evolve in our attitudes towards mental health, and the approaches we take as an organisation. I really do value and welcome everyone’s feedback as to how you feel we as firm can improve in the approaches we take.”


Why did you want to become the mental health first aider?

“I have always been passionate about advocating for more open conversations around mental health and have volunteered for mental health charities for a number of years. I was keen to complete the workplace training, as I was particularly interested in hearing about what changes organisations can and should be making internally to create a healthy culture where people feel supported and empowered to speak out,

Given the challenging and sensitive nature of the work that is undertaken here at Hanne & Co, it is essential that we have the right tools in place to support colleagues. The people here are truly the firms’ greatest assets, and so it is important that we all do everything we can to support each other and prevent burnout.”

What steps can you implement in your organisation to improve mental health in the organisation?

A few steps discussed in the mental first aid training are outlined below:

  • Regular catch ups – ensuring open dialogue within teams can allow you to recognise early signs of emotional distress, identify areas for further support, and foster an environment where people feel able to talk openly about how they are feeling.
  • Mental health forums – creating dedicated sessions with representatives from around the firm to discuss ideas for improving.
  • Mental Health / Wellbeing Policy – creating a dedicated wellbeing policy that covers both physical and mental health that is championed by senior management, is constantly evolving, and sets out the available advice, support, and training.
  • Signposting – utilising internal databases so people can access helpful resources and know where they can turn to for additional support.
  • First aiders – ensuring your mental health first aiders are representative of the firm and come from different teams and levels of seniority.
  • Evaluation – continually evaluating the effectiveness of all wellbeing initiatives and responding to employee feedback.

In my role as mental health first aider, I aim to ensure mental health and wellbeing remains a priority at Hanne & Co. It isn’t always obvious when someone is struggling, but hopefully through implementing the steps above and others like it, people will feel encouraged to speak out.

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