Mental Health First Aider 

COVID-19 pandemic triggered significant increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. More and more companies recognize how important the mental health issue is in their organizations.  

From this article you will learn how to spot early signs of a mental health issue your colleague/team member or even you might have and how to act in situations when a person is facing such problems.  


What is mental health issue?  

But first let’s answer a question what exactly is a mental health issue? It can both describe diagnosed mental illness but also some symptoms of mental illness that are not severe enough for diagnosis eg. withdrawal from interactions, low mood, isolation or mental health related crises. 

Mental health issue is more common than you might think! 

mental health first aider webinar ETTA


How to recognize warning signs of a mental health issue? 

Most generally: 

Something about the person’s behaviours changes and people around feel uncomfortable with it or feel that „something is wrong”. Eg. One of the colleagues is not able to control his emotions very well and starts to shout at other people during the meeting. It happens more and more frequently or there is very slight trigger for him to start shouting.  


Possible warning signs of depression: 

  • Withdrawal 
  • Reporting fatigue / sadness 
  • Loss of interest in what used to be interesting 
  • Poor performance due to problems with memory and concentration 
  • Being easily irritated 
  • Feeling „a failure” 


Possible warning signs of anxiety disorder: 

  • Unrealistic / excessive fear 
  • Mind racing or going blank 
  • Irritability, anger 
  • Intrusive thoughts 
  • Avoidance / distress in certain situations 
  • Repetitive compulsive behaviour 


What to do if your colleague / team member have a challenge with mental health? 

There is one simple but not easy for everyone procedure to talk about mental health issues called ALGEE framework. The most important is to be supportive and non-judgmental.  

mental health first aider ALGEE ETTA webinar 

How to talk about mental health issues? 

There are many reasons we do not want to talk about mental health concerns at work – fear of judgment, embarrassment, shame or even fear that it might have a negative impact on our career. But we should not be quiet! 

  • Mental health issues are common 
  • There is stigma relating mental health issues 
  • People are not well informed about mental health 
  • Many people do not receive adequate treatment in time 
  • They might not know that they need help or that it is available 


How to start such conversations? 

  • Prepare – list the unusual behaviours 
  • Right time and space – privacy 
  • Use non-judgmental language: „How are you feeling?”, „How have you been doing recently?” „I have noticed that recently you…”, „I am concerned because I have observed that…” 
  • Listen 
  • Offer help in non-imposing way: „If those difficulties persist, there is an option to seek professional help…”, „It was helpful for my colleague in a similar situation to…” 

 The first step to start the conversation about mental health issue is the most difficult but at the same time it is the most important one! Even when you think the person is closing up, you might have just planted a grain that will make that person to seek professional help.  


How to support mental health in organization? 

  • Open up the subject – eg. show statistics 
  • Provide environment that supports mental health – environment that allows to finish work during working hours and  allows to unwind after work 
  • Learn how to get professional help – eg. platforms where you can access live sessions with professionals  
  • Educate your teams – don’t make this subject a taboo, don’t hide it or pretend it doesn’t exist 

We hope that this article helped you to approach mental health issues you might encounter at your organization. Bur if you want to learn more watch the full webinar “Mental Health First Aider” and check other titles in our shop. 


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