A New Idea for a New Year
If you're still considering ideas for a work New Year's Resolution for 2018, how about training your mental health first aiders and health champions in alcohol awareness?
The links between alcohol and mental health are well known, with alcohol as a depressant drug often used to numb stress and anxiety. Individuals who suffer from anxiety or depression, and who drink, are twice as likely to be heavy drinkers.
In addition, there is a strong link between alcohol and suicide – 50% of suicides or suicide attempts are linked to prior heavy drinking and a fifth of women and over a quarter of men who self-harm have been drinking before hand.
It is very possible that your mental health first aiders and health champions may come across the issue of alcohol as well as stress, anxiety, depression and other concerns amongst their colleagues. Once people start to open up, they may reflect that they are also worried about their drinking.
Alternatively, a mental health first aider may have concerns about a colleague’s drinking but may not know how to raise this.
After all, what is heavy drinking? How much is too much? What determines if it is a problem or not? And where should they recommend a colleague go for independent support?
In addition to their understanding around mental health issues, your Mental Health First Aiders and Health Champions may benefit from knowing the signs of alcohol misuse, how to broach the subject with their colleague and where to signpost them for support.
We think there are at least 3 reasons why Alcohol Awareness should form part of Mental Health First Aid Training:
- Alcohol Awareness Training will increase your Mental Health First Aiders' and Health Champions' confidence to recognise, talk about and support problems that colleagues may be having with alcohol
- Alcohol Awareness Training will support Mental Health First Aiders' and Health Champions' ability to intervene on alcohol issues early on, increasing the chance of problems being resolved early
- Providing Alcohol Awareness Training for Mental Health First Aiders and Health Champions signals to employees that the organisation understands the relationship between alcohol and mental health – and neither subject is off limits in terms of employee wellbeing and support
We'd love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, we wish you a very happy, healthy 2018.
The Alcohol Health Network Team
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Posted by Don Shenker on 11th January 2018