Mental Health First Aid VS Managing Mental Health in the Workplace for Managers Training

Caption: The big debate on Mental Health First Aid


The big debate at Be.

The scenario: A business calls us for MHFA training as part of their workplace wellbeing strategy, great we can deliver that! However after a quick discussion assessing delegate needs, this usually isn’t the course that meets those needs.


The government have heavily promoted MHFA, so its’ the course that everyone has heard about, however this isn’t a one size fits all.

WHS have just released an article committing to train 1,100 managers in MHFA. This isn’t the most effective or appropriate training for managers so here we will tell you why.


This has inspired Emma and I to write a blog on the pro’s and con’s of MHFA and how the course you may really need may be Mental Health Advocate or Mental Health for Managers. Emma has 10 years’ experience as a mental health trainer and is a MHFA approved instructor. I have 20 year experience working in the mental health field with 11 years in mental health training and developed our Mental Health Advocate and Mental Health for Managers Training.


So the gloves are off!!


Ding Ding!! Round 1.


Emma on MHFA: It is an internationally recognised model, developed in Australia in 2001 which launched in 2007 in the UK and endorsed by DOH and National Institute of Mental Health in England as part of a national approach to improve public mental health. There has only been one refresh of the course content which was in Jan 2017. MHFA is a 2 day course.
It’s outcomes are to:
1. Recognise the symptoms of mental ill health
2. Provide initial help
3. Guide the person towards appropriate professional help
4. Be mindful of your own wellbeing.


Emily on MHFA: My concerns are that MHFA is being marketed as a one size fits all mental health course. So I would like to share with you my professional opinion on how and where MHFA fits in with your staffing structure in the workplace.

Customer Facing Staff – Having customer facing staff MHFA trained is the perfect way to add safety and support to your customers and clients and create confidence in your staff to be able to engage with a customer who is experiencing a mental health crisis, which could be a panic attack all the way up to responding to suicidal thoughts and/or actions. Staff will also experience a greater understanding of mental ill health which has been proven to reduce stigma and discrimination.


Colleague to colleague support – Organisations have begun to embrace having Mental Health Advocates(MHA’s)/Champions thanks to the Time to Change Campaign. A Mental Health Advocate (MHA) is an employee of any level, who volunteers to take positive action to reduce stigma and discrimination in the workplace, while offering colleague to colleague support through listening and signposting to appropriate sources of support and information.

The employees who take on this role voluntarily usually have a lived experience of a mental health problem and are encouraged to use their story as a gift to speak out about mental health in a safe a structured manner to powerfully reduce stigma and discrimination in the workplace. Our Accredited Mental Health Advocate Training makes MHA’s safety a focal point of the day by supporting them to establish clear boundaries of their role, their personal boundaries and the organisational boundaries. We ensure that a MHAs emotional safety is paramount when engaging in a role where some contact with a colleague may be triggering.


The MHA role is promoted to be a part of an active working group to help embed workplace wellbeing in the day to day workings of an organisation. The training covers spotting signs and symptoms of the most common mental health problems which are reported in the workplace and how to support a colleague in crisis. The course also teaches MHA’s how to support a colleague to complete a Wellness Action Plan to direct the member of staff to their manager for practical supportive measures and reasonable adjustments if needed. Our training also covers Self-Care for the prevention of mental health problems.


Managers (from CEO to front line) – Training for managers differs as we are now looking at RESPONSIBILITY not a voluntary role. We are talking about Health and Safety and potential litigation if staff presenting with a mental health problem are not supported appropriately and within legislation. We are also now talking about prevention, through to support in the workplace, sickness absence and return to work.

We recommend that this course is mandatory for all managers.


Aims and Objectives of our Accredited Managing Mental Health in the Workplace for Managers Course.


To aid in attitude change as every manager will attend with a different attitude and unconscious bias on what mental health means. Building knowledge on mental health in the workplace and upskill managers with tools to work effectively with mental ill health presented in the work place. Ensure early detection and intervention of problems with the aim of reducing sickness absence and supporting staff back in to work appropriately and lawfully. This course strengthens culture change by inspiring a manager to modify how they support staff, become more positive role models in the workplace and begin to create mentally healthier workplaces.

1. To understand and remove the stigma that is attached to Mental Health problems
2. To gain a deeper understanding of what Mental Health is.
3. To become more familiar with the multiple factors that may contribute to mental health problems.
4. HSE Management Standards and Stress Risk assessments
5. Be able to recognise signs and symptoms of common mental health problems and conditions in the workplace ( Anxiety, Depression, and Stress)
6. To know what treatments are available for these conditions and Problems.
7. Know and understand legislation relating to supporting staff with mental health problems in the workplace
8. Know how to effectively support a member of staff using supportive measures, reasonable adjustments and following the back to work process from absence due to mental health problems
9. To know what a Wellness Action Plan is and how it can be used in the work place to support staff with a mental health problem both proactively and reactively.
10. To feel confident in signposting to appropriate services with mental health concerns.
11. To be aware of the importance of self-care for prevention of mental health problems.


As you can see there are clearly 3 different reasons that an organisation needs some form of mental health training for their staff and that MHFA has it’s place, however is not the one size fits all course that it is currently viewed as.

MHFA requires 2 days of training whereas MHA training and Line Manager Training require 1 day of training which includes mental health awareness. This should be considered too when establishing which is more appropriate as workplaces are working on an ever-diminishing budget for training, and staff time out of work is precious.

We deliver all three of these courses so we feel that we can take an honest, transparent and ethical view on what training is right for your workplace and staff.

Vist our blog every Wednesday for #workplacewellbeingwednesday for more dicsussions, tips and general information about mental health amd workplace wellbeing. 

To book your place as an individual on our courses you can find them on Eventbrite.

Or

To discuss any of these training courses being delivered in house or as part of our Workplace Wellbeing Framework:
Call:    0191 6913500
Email: emily.pearson@be-wellbeing.com

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