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What is a mental health first aider and why have one in your workplace?

What is a mental health first aider and why have one in your the workplace?

According to Great Minds At Work, “Mental Health First Aid is vital in the work environment” – but what is Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), why is it important and where does an organisation start if they want to explore training?

What is Mental Health First Aider?

A Mental Health First Aider is an individual who has undertaken training designed to teach individuals the skills and knowledge to provide initial support to someone experiencing a mental health challenge or developing a mental health issue. The programme equips participants to recognise indicators and symptoms exhibited by those struggling with their mental health in order to offer support and guidance toward appropriate professional help if needed.


Why is it important to have Mental Health First Aiders in the workplace?

 The facts:

  • In 2022/23, 338,00 workers suffered from a new case of work-related stress, depression or anxiety, that’s an incident of 1,000 per 100,00 workers.

  • It is estimated 17.1 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety, accounting for 54% of all lost days.

  • According to Deloitte, poor mental health costs UK employers up to £56 billion each year.

  • However, it’s not all bad news, for every £1 spent by employers on mental health interventions, they got back £5.30 in reduced absence, presenteeism, and staff turnover.


Benefits of Mental Health First Aiders in the workplace

Investing in Mental Health First Aid Training won’t automatically resolve problems for both your employees or the organisation overnight – nonetheless it does demonstrate your commitment to employee wellbeing and helps contribute to a more open conversation around mental wellbeing and ultimately a happier, healthier and more resilient workforce. By equipping employees with the tools to support each other’s mental health, workplaces can create a supportive and compassionate work environment where employees feel valued and understood, and better prepared for what life throws at them.


Contributing to timely support for employees

Having MHFAs can also enhance employee wellbeing and performance by addressing wellbeing issues early on. Employees who receive timely support for their mental health concerns are more likely to stay engaged, focused, and productive at work. This, in turn, can lead to lower rates of absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover, benefiting both individuals and the organisation as a whole.


Mental Health First Aid Training at Partners&

As a qualified Mental Health First Aid Trainer for MHFA England, our Learning & Development Manager, Sally Higgins, led our first cohort through their training in 2023.

Here’s what she had to say:

“We’re thrilled to now have over 34 employees across our business who completed their Mental Health First Aider training last year. It’s great that we now have this knowledge in our teams. MHFAiders aren’t therapists, but they have been trained to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis – and potentially stop a crisis from happening. After the success of our first training course, I look forward to training up our next cohort of volunteers.”


What does being a MHFAider mean to you?

Find out what some of our MHFAiders said below:

How to start Mental Health First Aider Training in your organisation

MHFA England run regular training sessions both in person and online. Available courses can include a half day awareness course or the full two-day training programme. More information on training courses can be found on the MHFA England website.


Mental Health Awareness Week, 2024

Businesses can also get involved with the activities run by the Mental Health Foundation to further support Mental Health Awareness Week 13 May – 19 May 2024.

To mark the occasion, we will be recording a special episode this month for our The People Podcast – Focusing on Women’s Health – opening up the conversation around Mental Health, reproductive health and menopause. This episode can be found on all your usual podcast platforms. Plus, we’ll keep the conversation going in our Understanding Women’s Health Webinar on June 5. For more details on both of these resources keep an eye on our social media.