Supporting others through mental health certification

By Tamara Smith, Customer Operations Manager

Many of us have heard of first aid and CPR certification, the training needed to help someone in a medical emergency. But what about when it comes to mental health and knowing when someone may be at risk of hurting themselves or others? That’s the thought behind our mental health certification pilot at Clorox. The sooner we can recognize risk factors and warning signs of mental health concerns, and know what actions to take, we can better support others at work, home or in the community.

The idea started after I went through a mental health certification with my church. A family member is bipolar, and I wanted to know how to better communicate with them. As a member of  the Mental Health Champions  employee resource group, I shared my experience with my colleagues,  and the idea caught on. There’s a stigma around mental illnesses, and as a group we wanted to break this down by raising awareness and educating others. We felt like the certification was a way to help toward this goal, giving more people the tools to support and be advocates for others.

Our ERG leaders went through the training so they could be better equipped to help our teammates, and we quickly realized the need for training was much broader. We then launched a pilot, rolling the certification out at 13 Clorox locations in the U.S. and Canada, including five offices and eight manufacturing facilities. The multiday training teaches how to identify risk factors and warning signs; educates on illnesses like depression, anxiety and trauma; and provides resources and actions to help someone experiencing a mental health concern or crisis.

We’ve all taken away something we can use at work or at home. It helped me feel more comfortable talking about mental illnesses and getting help. It’s a difficult topic to discuss, and the training gives you a better sense of how to approach it. Another teammate shared how it helped her gain a greater understanding of the experiences of someone she knew who died by suicide. We’ve all been through a lot over the last two years, and breaking down walls, having conversations and being more comfortable on how to respond to others is needed more than ever.

We’re now working with leaders to extend the pilot to more locations. There is something every person can take away to help others or even themselves. Through this work, I feel we’re truly living our company’s purpose to champion people to be well and thrive. After all, to thrive we need to feel well in mind and in body, and I’m hopeful this certification is a step toward that vision.