Your Role in Mental Health First Aid

You Can Be a Mental Health First Responder


As mental health providers, we have witnessed the positive impact that mental health first aid can have on individuals. While many companies may have a designated person or team to handle mental health concerns, employees themselves can also be a valuable resource for providing support and assistance to their peers.

There’s no substitute for situations that need long-term professional counseling, but here are 5 simple steps that people can take to provide mental health first aid to their friends and colleagues that will make a difference:

Step 1: Start by observing and listening.

The first step in providing mental health first aid is to observe and listen to your colleague. Pay attention to any changes in their behavior, such as increased irritability, withdrawal from social situations, or a decline in work performance. It’s important to approach the conversation with an open mind and without judgment, allowing your colleague to express themselves freely.

Step 2: Ask questions and express concern.

Once you have observed changes in your colleague’s behavior, it’s important to ask questions and express concern. You can start the conversation by saying something like, “I’ve noticed that you haven’t been yourself lately, is everything okay?” This shows your colleague that you care and are willing to listen.

Step 3: Normalize and Validate their feelings.

When your colleague expresses their feelings, it’s important to validate them. Let them know that their feelings are valid and that it’s okay to feel the way they do. You can say something like, “It sounds like you’re going through a tough time, and I’m here to support you.”

Step 4: Provide resources.

While you may not be a mental health professional, you can still provide your colleague with resources and support. This may include offering to help them find a therapist, suggesting support groups or hotlines, or providing information on employee assistance programs. The key is letting your friend or colleague know that it’s okay to get some help and you’re willing to guide them.

Step 5: Follow up.

After your conversation with your colleague, it’s important to follow up with them. This shows that you care and are invested in their well-being. You can check in with them regularly, offer to accompany them to appointments or support groups, or simply ask how they’re doing.

We’re in this together.

Mental health first aid can be an effective way for employees to support their peers. By observing, listening, asking questions, validating feelings, providing resources, and following up, employees can play an important role in helping their colleagues navigate mental health challenges. Remember, it’s okay to not have all the answers, but offering a listening ear and showing support can make all the difference.

If you or someone you know is going through a tough time and needs counseling services, reach out to our New Client Intake Team to schedule an appointment using our Contact Us form. You can also call us at 206.459.7994 to speak to a team member.