Article from Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England 

Following this week’s ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ activity, led by Natasha Devon MBE, Bauer Media and MHFA England, we wanted to get in touch with a further update on some exciting developments.

Where is your head at?

HSE issues new guidance

We are delighted to share news that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated its guidance around the first aid needs assessment in the workplace to include advice on ‘mental health trained first aiders’.

The new guidance states: “Following your employers’ first aid needs assessment; you might decide that it will be beneficial to have personnel trained to identify and understand symptoms and able to support someone who might be experiencing a mental health issue.

You should consider ways to manage mental ill health in your workplace which are appropriate for your business, such as providing information or training for managers and employees, employing occupational health professionals, appointing mental health trained first aiders and implementing employee support programmes.

First aid training courses covering mental health, teach delegates how to recognise warning signs of mental ill health and help them to develop the skills and confidence to approach and support someone, while keeping themselves safe.

There is a wide range of training providers offering mental health awareness or first aid training and details of available training that best meets the needs of your organisation can be found by conducting a simple internet search.”

You can view the new guidance in full here:

Instructor guidance and next steps

This is encouraging progress in our campaign to ensure everyone has access to someone with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) skills in the workplace – but the campaign doesn’t end here.

Our key messages around the guidance change are:

  • Since May 2018 the ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ campaign has been calling for legislative change to put mental and physical first aid on an equal footing. In this time it has secured cross-party support, public support, employer backing.
  • Alongside this campaign, we have been working with the HSE to clarify the guidance around mental health first aids needs assessment. The guidance released today is a step forward in bringing parity to mental health in the workplace.
  • However, guidance can only do so much to shift the dial. Whilst we see this as an important step towards legislative change, we will continue our campaign calling on the Government to honour its pledge to amend first aid legislation to include both mental and physical health.
  • MHFA England is clear that equality will only be truly achieved when the law requires every workplace to make provision for mental, as well as physical, first aid.

The MENTOR Study

In other news, this Friday (23 November), the University of Nottingham and the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) will publish the result of the MENTOR Study – a feasibility study looking at the impact of Mental Health First Aid in the workplace.

Further information on this will be available via the MHFA England news hub on Friday morning.