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Mental Health First Aid: An investment in employee wellbeing


Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an early intervention evidence-based program providing tools to help support employers in the workplace, and it’s becoming increasingly popular, as we are finding out at Changing Minds. But what is stopping more businesses to address and invest in employee’s mental health and wellbeing?


The short answer is, it’s still not being taken seriously enough. Employers need to improve their understanding around the needs and support for their colleagues, especially those that are finding life tough, and to recognise the signs of a colleague that is crying out for help. We spend a lot of time working with our colleagues, but with hybrid working as the new norm, this has formed a disconnect, and this is why it’s even more important for employees to know when and how to reach out to a colleague. Having a conversation can save lives.


MHFA is currently being discussed in Parliament with a push to try and make it mandatory for all organisations, but there’s been a lot of criticism around this which is only further delaying the First Aid (Mental Health) bill to be passed.


Most of the criticism has been of the view that MHFA will fix all mental health issues which we know not to be the case. The backlash has also been centred around MHFA not solving the crisis of mental health which shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what MHFA seeks to achieve.


MHFA was not designed to reduce the prevalence of mental illness or improve access to treatment and services. It was aimed to empower people to notice signs of mental ill health, and encourage them to break down barriers, listen in a non-judgemental way, and signpost to support for recovery.


Stop ticking boxes, be authentic in your strategy.


In 2022, statistics from the CIPD revealed that only half of organisations take a strategic approach to employee wellbeing. 36% of organisations say they are much more reactive than proactive.


Furthermore, a lot of training providers are working with organisations to implement MHFA training as a tick box exercise. This is where Changing Minds is different.


We take a much more long-term strategic approach as a short-term fix is far from what we do. Yes, we can train employees to equip them with the knowledge and skills to deal with MHFA, but what value is there in a one-off training session?


Where we really add value is by going beyond just being a training provider. We partner with our clients in order to analyse the long-term impact of the training we deliver by offering package solutions that imbed and incorporate mental health and wellbeing at every touchpoint of the employee lifecycle. This might include awareness training for the entire organisation, upskilling line managers, regular engagement through masterclasses or advanced training in MHFA.


From this point on, we stay close to our clients and follow up with them to not only refresh their knowledge but to keep in touch about what progress they are making. We love hearing success stories and feedback, it’s what makes us tick.


Client feedback


We have been working with MD Insurance Services Group over the last three years, a leading insurance company to the building and construction industry, based in the Wirral, as they decided they wanted to invest in a group of Mental Health First Aiders.


After shopping around and virtually meeting with various providers, they decided to work with Changing Minds. Here’s what their Learning and Development Advisor, Jess Dutton, has to say about their whole MHFA training experience:


“Olivia understands MD Groups strategy, challenges and concerns with implementing this and is always willing to speak to key stakeholders or senior leaders to provide further explanation and expert opinion and advice.


“We started off with a small group of our HR and L&D employees and have since had a number of other individuals across different levels attend either a bespoke MD Group session or join one of the online public courses. The online learning portal makes it simple for learners to know where they are up to with the pre course work and the live sessions compliment this well.


“Feedback from those individuals that have been through this course has always been really positive and it’s great to hear how much of a lasting impact Olivia’s training and style has had and how this will help in their role as a company MHFA.


“Individuals within the group are starting to acknowledge our MHFAs and use them for the initial support and guidance they need. We continuously promote our wellbeing strategy and utilise the free masterclasses by advertising these sessions to all employees who may want to find out more about supporting their own and others wellbeing. In my role as Learning and Development Advisor I have found the recent newsletters really helpful as it gives me a prompt or information to advise our employees of further wellbeing strategies to implement.”


Making strides and breaking down barriers


As highlighted in the case study above, MHFA highlights the importance of being able to discuss your mental health, not being ashamed to discuss this sensitive topic or be judged if you need assistance. Thankfully the stigma around mental health is changing for the better as people are more open and transparent about their mental health issues, and workplaces are starting to recognise the importance of providing the correct training.


At Changing Minds, we offer support with employee wellbeing strategies as we know wellbeing initiatives are more likely to be adopted if they are part of a meaningful strategic approach from the top down.


MHFA support should be on all business plans for 2023. Employers will be providing their employees with an incredible gift, as MHFA will provide the confidence to have a conversation that may very well save a life.


If you or anyone in your organisation is looking to get some MHFA training in place, please contact Olivia at olivia@changingmindstraining.com


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