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The role of Mental Health First Aiders

Mark Goode

In the UK, since 1981, it’s been a legal requirement for employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure that employees receive immediate medical attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. Now, with the public taking mental health more seriously, many people are discussing the idea of Mental Health First Aiders becoming mandatory.

A Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) is a designated and trained individual, who should be the first port of call for employees experiencing mental health issues. Businesses are becoming more and more willing to invest time and resources into trained MHFAs, primarily for employee well-being which in turn, helps to maintain a motivated and productive workforce.

How they can help colleagues

MHFAs are trained to spot the early signs and symptoms of mental illness, and to support employees in all mental health matters. From supportive conversations to assessing the risk of self-harm, they can be essential in protecting and helping colleagues experiencing mental health issues or emotional distress.

An attentive MHFA can work with employees to help identify any problems that they’re having. They can also make recommendations to the line manager to adjust their employee’s role and responsibilities, if that is the source of the issue. Alternatively, they can be essential in helping the employee get the professional help they need, by putting them in contact with the right people and by helping them develop the confidence to talk openly about their experiences.

Making a difference

Society’s attitude towards mental health problems is changing, people are more accepting and accommodating and employers are beginning to reflect that. The wide adoption and training of MHFAs is a huge step forward in encouraging people to speak more openly about the problems they’re having at work, reducing stigma and creating a more positive culture. If you’re interested in the positive benefit you can have as a Mental Health First Aider, speak to your manager for more information about completing a MHFA course. 

Read our related blog: Why employee well-being matters

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