How to implement mental health first aid in the workplace
New industry-endorsed guidance has been launched for employers, to enable them to lay the groundwork, evaluate the support they have in place, create clear policies and recruit mental health first aiders.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England has launched best-practice guidance for employers on the back of recent recommendations from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to include ‘mental health trained first aiders’ as part of employers’ first aid needs assessments.
So far, around 15,000 organisations across the country already trained staff in MHFA England courses. Statistics recently released by the Health and Safety Executive show 15.4 million working days were lost last year due to work-related stress, depression and anxiety.
Employers are advised to lay the groundwork within their organisation by asking, ‘how healthy is your workplace now’? By understanding where an organisation is on the ‘journey’, will help inform of the correct strategy and approach and how best to communicate that message within the organisation.
Whole organisation approach
Simon Blake OBE, Chief Executive, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England commented: “Mental Health First Aid training should always be one part of a ‘whole organisation’ approach to mental health – helping thousands of employers to implement the core standards for a mentally healthy workplace, as set out in the Government’s ‘Thriving at Work’ review, including improving mental health awareness and encouraging conversation about the support available.”
The guidance was developed in consultation with firms such as Thames Water, PwC, Royal Mail, and Three UK and includes advice on how to recruit, promote and support staff trained in Mental Health First Aid.
Karl Simons, Chief Health, Safety & Security Officer at Thames Water, said: “As a major employer that has embedded mental health first aiders throughout our business, I’m delighted Thames Water has supported the development of this guidance, which will assist all employers to bring parity between mental and physical first aid in the workplace.
“The introduction of mental health first aiders, as part of our Time to Talk Strategy, has led to a cultural revolution across Thames Water. Mental health first aiders are a catalyst for engagement, providing our employees with the confidence to come forward and seek support at their time of need.”
Sally Evans, Wellbeing Lead, PwC added: “By offering this guidance, MHFA England is providing a clear set of considerations for employers looking at how to implement Mental Health First Aid training – whilst also respecting that organisations of different shapes and sizes will need to take different approaches.”
To date PwC has trained three fully-qualified MHFA England instructors. This in-house approach has ensured that MHFA England training can be continually delivered across the firm.
Laura Hinton, Chief People Officer, PwC UK, commented: “Mental Health First Aid England training sits at the heart of our skill-focused mental health programme. It is central to the behavioural change we are working on, and essential for the development of our senior business leaders, career coaches and the people they look after.
“It has been very well received so far and there is huge enthusiasm and appetite for it. We can already see anecdotally that people are more confident discussing mental health as a result of the training. We are now looking to develop impact measures to help refine our approach on an ongoing basis.”
The Role of the Mental Health First Aider
Alongside this new advice, strengthened guidance on the role of the person trained in Mental Health First Aid skills has also been published to support the Role of the Mental Health First Aider. This covers the boundaries and responsibilities of those qualified at different levels; as Mental Health First Aiders, Mental Health First Aid Champions and Mental Health Aware.
The new guidance for employers can be found here.
The enhanced guidance for employees can be found here.
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