Employee Spotlight: Dave Fisher


Dave Fisher, one of our Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) at AB Dynamics.

On World Mental Health Day, we’re shining the spotlight on Dave Fisher, one of our Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) at AB Dynamics. As a part of the HR team, Dave talks about the importance and benefits of having MHFAs in the workplace.

What inspired you to become a mental health first aider?

My team suggested it to me - I missed the initial internal email seeking volunteers! I have my own story with mental health and feel it's important that I use my experience to support others as this is a key part of my own journey. I experienced depression in my early 20s, and I really leaned on this experience and the tools I gathered during this time, when my daughter was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2016 (she'll be 5 years post-treatment in 2024!). For me, passing on the tools and techniques is my way of giving back. It took me a long time the realise that mental health is an everyday thing, and not just about getting through tough times.

Can you explain what the role of a MHFA in the workplace involves?

It isn't necessarily all about providing first aid at a critical point as a medical fist aider would, but about being mindful and aware of your colleagues. It can be as simple as getting to know them because when you're more familiar with them you inevitably know how best to support if ever called upon - everyone's mental health is as unique as they are. The stereotypical “crisis-point” is what everyone associates with poor mental health. However, it is important to recognise that mental health is a spectrum, and that various issues necessitate different actions.

What kind of training and skills are required to be an effective MHFA?

Aside from the formal training, I feel the most important skill is the ability to listen, not to respond but to understand - you're not going to have all the answers and you need to be comfortable with that. Patience is also important, if someone is disclosing something to you, you need to allow someone to tell their own story without you interrupting or making assumptions. This initial step is often the most arduous and challenging, so it is critical that they feel listened to. Finally, I believe that self-awareness is key, you need to take care of yourself and be mindful of your own mental health.

How do you think the presence of MHFAs benefits the overall well-being of employees?

I think it's twofold really - knowing that support is there if you need it (either for yourself or to signpost someone to), but also having MHFAs shows that the business cares about the mental well-being of their employees; it's about fostering a culture and letting employees know that there is a safe-space for these conversations to happen.

What advice would you give other companies thinking of introducing MHFAs to their organisation?

If you can, do it! It sends an important, positive message to your existing employees as well as perspective employees and candidates. In this post-Covid world, employees and candidates aren't just considering salary when thinking about a new job, but also the wider culture of the business, and having an MHFA representative or team sends a strong message about your workplace culture. Through our MHFA programme, AB Dynamics is taking steps towards creating an environment in which people can share anything they might be struggling with.

About World Mental Health Day:

World Mental Health Day is an international day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against social stigma. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organisation with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.

This year’s theme, “Our minds, our rights” highlights the importance of workplace equality and access to healthcare.

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