How Effective Is Mental Health First Aid Training?

Posted on written by Nisha Dhingra

Awareness around poor mental health within workplaces has progressed massively in recent years. The Mental Health First Aid training programme was developed to help employers spot the signs of poor mental health. But the question is….does it actually work?

Even though mental health and the impact it can have for employees, not just with their own well-being, but with safety in the workplace, overall is becoming much more recognised, is enough being done to raise awareness? Poor mental health can result in a wide range of health and safety issues not only for the individual, but colleagues and the general public too. In this week’s blog, we are going to look at the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training programme and whether it has been effective in improving health and safety. But before we look into it, we need to explore mental health among British workers.


Mental health and the UK workplace

We’ve blogged about mental health within a working environment on several occasions – New Survey Reveals the Extent of Workplace Stress and How Bad is Workplace Stress in the UK. Our findings had discovered…

 

  • The public and voluntary sector in particular had higher levels of stress than others

 

  • Even though 40% of mid-level workers stated work actually had a positive impact on their mental health, long hours and unmanageable workloads were big reasons for stress and poor mental health

 

  • 59% of people stated work was the main cause of stress within their lives. So, given that more awareness is being raised regarding poor mental health in the workplace, what is the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training programme…

What is MHFA Training Programme?

Poor mental health costs UK employers over £30 billion per year. The MHFA programme was developed so employers and employees are able to identify the symptoms of poor mental health which colleagues may display at work.

It was originally established in Australia so the general public could identify and respond to symptoms of poor mental health, however it has led to an increase in employees and employers undertaking the training in a workplace setting.

The training itself covers depression and anxiety disorders, trauma as well as issues relating to substance abuse. It teaches how to respond to situations and how to encourage people to seek professional help and how they can do this. But the real question is…does the MHFA Training Programme actually work?


How Effective is Mental Health First Aid Training?

The principles behind the MHFA training programme are solid, however a report released by the HSE found there isn’t substantial evidence of it improving the overall management of mental ill health within a workplace.

Even though employers who undertook the training said that it developed their skills in spotting the signs of poor mental health and raised awareness around these issues, the practical aspects of it haven’t been as successful as originally hoped.

That being said, more evidence and research is needed into this area to really capture how mental health training can help individuals and ensure a positive health and safety culture within the workplace.

You can read the full summary of evidence for MHFA training by the HSE here.

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