We would rather not have to make use of the services of the company first aider.

Much like we’d rather not have to make use of the fire extinguisher in the corner or the defibrillator on the wall. But we know they are there if we need them and, employers and employees alike, recognise the reassurance such things offer.

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against the social stigma of mental health. It shines a light on the growing numbers of people around the world suffering from mental health problems, which are as debilitating as physical ailments. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is suicide prevention.

A key way employers can support the mental health of their people is to have trained Mental Health First Aiders alongside physical ones. It’s not a nice-to-have but essential if employees are to feel the same reassurances about their mental health at work as they do their physical health.

According to Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, mental ill health costs UK employers £34.9 billion each year. Around 15.4 million working days are lost due to work-related stress anxiety and depression each year. There have been no shortage of headline statistics to demonstrate to the world of business the importance of good mental health to productivity and performance but many organisations are still failing to put in place the safeguards and support that many employees need.

There is no doubt the subject is moving up the agenda, including the political one. In a new policy approved at its recent Autumn Conference, the Liberal Democrats’ party pledged to provide mental health first aid training in all health and care settings. Meanwhile, a number of the party’s MPs also took the opportunity to pledge their support for the MHFA’s “Where’s Your Head At?” Workplace Manifesto, a mission statement for a mentally healthier working world in which everyone has access to both mental and physical first aid.

PUSH was one of those invited to the Houses of Parliament to support the campaign last year and we are delighted that momentum is building behind it but there is still a long way to go.

Three reasons why you should have a Mental Health First Aider in your workplace

  1. More than 15,000 organisations have already trained staff in MHFA courses.  The figure is growing and a Mental Health First Aider is increasingly seen as a workplace essential.
  2. It makes sound business sense. Mental ill health costs billions to UK businesses every year, impacting productivity and performance. A Mental Health First Aider can help to protect the business by minimising the impact of mental health issues.
  3. It helps to bring about true and long-lasting culture change around the subject, breaking down barriers and stigmas that have existed for years. An open culture around mental health in the workplace is key to good mental health for the entire business in the long-term.

What will the course bring to your organisation? 

The course aims to give people the tools to keep themselves and their colleagues healthy and encourage people to access support as soon as it is needed which hopefully leads to a faster recovery. It also empowers those with long-term mental health issues or disability to thrive in work. Crucially, the training seeks to help build an open culture around mental health and embed positive and long-term cultural change across the organisation.

Among the key learnings that people will come away with are:

  • An in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing
  • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
  • Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
  • Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
  • Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support – whether that’s self-help resources, through their employer, the NHS, or a mix.

PUSH recognises that this area is still much misunderstood so we cover all of the basics from what is mental heath to the stigma and discrimination that still surrounds it right up to first aid for suicide crisis and warning signs of developing psychosis. We also cover conditions such as eating disorders, self-harming, as well as alcohol, drugs and anxiety disorders and much more. In such a discussion, no stone must be left unturned.

Attendees comes away with a MHFA manual to refer to whenever they need it; a wallet-sized reference card for the Mental Health First Aider action plan as well as other practical resources. They also receive a certificate to say they are a Mental Health First Aider.

So on this incredibly important day, let’s pledge to work together to ensure we look after our people and ourselves.

PUSH run Mental Health First Aid Training and we are offering 20% off our two-day designated mental health first aiders training courses in support of World Mental Health Day – please get in touch to find out more.


Cate Murden
Cate is the Founder and CEO of PUSH. She created PUSH with the fierce belief that with the right tools, mindsets and behaviours, we could build better workplaces full of happy, healthy and high-performing individuals.

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