Businesses are training thousands of mental health first aiders to help staff deal with depression, anxiety, stress and other conditions.
A report released by The Guardian this month revealed FTSE 100 companies have trained 10,000 staff, while mid-tier and small businesses are appointing first responders.
Acacia Training offers Mental Health First Aid England courses for adults and young people. MHFA England said 140,000 people were trained in 2018-19 – the most ever in a single year.
Victoria Sylvester, managing director of Acacia Training, said: “The progress being made with employers recognising the need for mental health first aiders in the workplace is a significant milestone in supporting employees and the wider wellbeing of their teams and individuals.
“It is fantastic to see and although there is still plenty more to be done, it is encouraging that this is now being recognised as being as important as physical first aid. Employers are also seeing the positive impact on staff sickness and retention when they support their people.”
All sorts of companies and sectors are training staff to become mental health first aiders and Lloyds Banking Group has a programme to train 2,500 by next year. Other companies to join the movement include Severn Trent, National Grid, EasyJet and Rolls-Royce.
The courses are most popular with the construction and finance sectors. In fact, coalition Building Mental Health (BMH) this month announced delivery of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England training to over 1,600 people in the construction sector.
This achievement comes at a time when the suicide rate for low-skilled manual construction workers is three times higher than the national average for male suicide.
The cost for businesses
According to MHFA England, currently, mental ill health costs employers up to £42 billion each year with over 300,000 people falling out of work due to poor mental health. More organisations are waking up to these facts and implementing measures to improve mental health in the workplace.
Simon Blake OBE, Chief Executive of Mental Health First Aid, (MHFA) England said: “Mental health training is a crucial pillar of any organisation’s wellbeing strategy and a key driver of continued organisational success.”
What does a mental health first aid course involve?
Mental health first aiders volunteer for the role and take a two-day training session, which provides them with all the information they need to identify signs associated with poor mental health, truly listen and signpost to other services.
This course includes a mix of presentations, discussions and group work activities. When you have completed the course, you will receive a certificate to confirm that you are a trained Mental Health First Aider.