In the workplace, mental health issues can affect one in every six employees. Therefore, many companies are taking positive action to support staff by training them in mental health first aid (MHFA).

But what exactly is mental health first aid? What is the role of a mental health first aider at work? How can you become a mental health first aider?

This comprehensive guide answers all of these questions and more. Read on for everything you need to know about Mental Health First Aiders, including their role in the workplace, the business benefits of MHFA and how you can get your workforce involved.

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is the support provided to a person experiencing symptoms of mental ill-health. It’s also the name for the training that teaches people how to provide initial support until appropriate professional treatment is received or until the crisis is resolved. MHFA also teaches people to recognise signs of poor mental health in the early stages and ways to try to prevent issues from developing.

Mental Health First Aid is extremely important in the work environment, with as many as 14.7% of employees experiencing a mental health issue in the workplace. Because of this, employers can benefit hugely from training their staff in Mental Health First Aid. By implementing MHFA training in the workplace, an employer can make a difference to their employees’ lives and make sure they reach their full potential in both productivity and engagement at work.

Mental health first aid has numerous benefits in the workplace, such as enabling employees to be aware of mental health issues and know how to act in order to best help themselves and their colleagues. It can also mean reduced absenteeism, improved productivity and better morale within the workplace.

Read More: How To Support Employees With Mental Health Issues at Work

What is the Role of a Mental Health First Aider?

Mental health first aiders are employees who have received training in identifying mental health issues, how to listen and communicate effectively with people experiencing any issues, and  understanding the most effective ways of encouraging them to seek appropriate help.  

The role of a mental health first aider is to provide initial support for people experiencing signs or symptoms of mental health issues and refer them to more appropriate care if necessary. They also help to open the lines of communication between the employer and staff and to reduce stigma in the workplace. Mental health first aiders can help to build confidence in employers and employees so they can support each other in times of need.

Key Responsibilities

With a qualified mental health first aider in the workplace, employers, employees and colleagues may feel more confident about what needs to be done to tackle poor mental health. 

Some key responsibilities of mental health first aiders in the workplace include:

  • Identifying if a person is experiencing a mental health issue
  • Listening non-judgementally to what the person is saying or feeling
  • Encouraging the person to seek appropriate treatment
  • Helping those suffering with mental ill-health to take small steps towards recovery
  • Referring on to specialist services if necessary
  • Helping to build trust between employer and employees, in order for both groups to feel comfortable talking openly about mental health issues

How To Become a Mental Health First Aider

Since there are so many benefits to having great employee wellbeing in the workplace and having members of staff trained in Mental Health First Aid, it can be an attractive prospect for employers to offer to fund these courses.

If you’re an employer or HR professional, consider funding expert MHFA training for select managers or staff members. MHFA courses are beneficial to both the employees themselves, their managers and the company as a whole. If you’re an employee and you would like to train in mental health first aid, you can approach your employer about funding for this course.

Employees can build a case for workplace wellness using the HMRC Tool Guide and presenting a case to employers for training staff in MHFA.

It’s important that managers and supervisors understand the signs of mental ill-health, and how to help employees who are struggling with anxiety, stress, depression or other mental health issues. Equipping them with the necessary skills to become a mental health first aider is a great way of creating an open environment in which people feel comfortable discussing any mental health-related issues they may have.   

Other Mental Health Training Options

While having key staff members or managers trained in Mental Health First Aid is one option, for employers who want to implement a company-wide mental health initiative, there are numerous Mental Health Training Courses that could be suitable.

An employer might consider appointing teams of employees who could take on the role of Mental Health Champions for their company. These people will receive training in mental health and can help to raise awareness of mental ill-health in the workplace.

You could also offer Mental Health Aware training, which is an introductory course that gives people general knowledge about mental health issues and how to be supportive, without training them in specific techniques.

Whatever your business needs, there’s a mental health training course that’s right for you and your company.

Does Your Business Need a Qualified Mental Health First Aider?

If you’re an employer who wants to offer support to your staff, consider funding Mental Health First Aid training. With these resources and course options available, it’s easy to help employees with mental health issues while also improving morale in the workplace.   

At Great Minds At Work, we understand the importance of a mentally healthy work environment. Our accredited Mental Health Training Courses offer employers the opportunity to train staff in a range of mental health first aid courses.
If you need help finding a course that’s right for your workforce, get in touch today!