Workplace Mental Health First Aid Programme

Does your workplace have a Mental Health First Aid Programme?

As part of our work as Scotland’s first social enterprise, tackling stress prevention and early intervention in the workplace, we strive to provide the best quality mental health education which includes Mental Health First Aid.

In today’s stressful world, it is more important than ever that workplaces should promote good mental health amongst their employees, as it’s proven that this, alongside early intervention, can prevent mental illnesses, but it’s also important that people have the tools to support those around them with mental health issues.

We are currently piloting some workshops with the aim of supporting organisations in drawing up a framework to implement and support workplace Mental Health First Aiders.

Mental Health First Aid Programme
Mental Health First Aid Officer

The Mental Health First Aider must:

Hold a Mental Health First Aid certificate endorsed by NHS Health Scotland and be available for any additional ongoing learning as required.

Spend the vast majority of their working hours on site at the workplace for which they are nominated.

Have an agreed understanding with their line managers and principles as to their role in the organisation regarding the programme.

Be able to be called away from their normal duties at short notice if required

Be able to maintain confidentiality as appropriate.

Demonstrate an ability to relate well to other workers.

Volunteered for the role and be deemed a suitable candidate with the right qualities.

What can a Mental Health First Aid framework address?

The workplace’s commitment to cultivating a workplace where:

The organisational culture encourages a positive and supportive attitude toward mental health and wellbeing.

Mental health problems are understood without stigma.

Worker-wellbeing is paramount.

Workers know how to respond appropriately and effectively to people with mental health problems

The role of a Mental Health First Aider.

The importance and limits of confidentiality.

When implementing this framework, workplaces need to consider:

The training received including delivery method, logistics, costs, availability, and target group.

The workplace’s size and needs (e.g. could the nature of the work potentiality increase the chance of workers experiencing mental health problems?)

Whether the workplace requires assistance to prepare a framework from Occupational Health and Safety advisers or legal advisers.

What can workplaces do to support early intervention for people with mental health problems?

Develop and implement a Mental Health First Aid framework.

Offer Mental Health First Aid and other relevant mental health training to all workers.

Encourage workers who have completed Mental Health First Aid to become a Mental Health First Aider in the workplace.

Appoint several suitable and willing Mental Health First Aiders.

Support and promote these Mental Health First Aiders across your organisation

Mental First Aid is just as important as Physical First Aid_RedBlue_White text


Attend a Mental Health First Aid course endorsed by NHS Health Scotland.

Created an environment in the workplace where mental health is being widely discussed; top down and bottom up.

Have ‘buy in’ at the top (in order to create real culture change it’s important to have everyone on board, but crucially at the top level).

Feel ready to create a ‘framework’ where we can support you to consider what this type of programme might look like in your organisation – as you know your workplace environment best, you will be responsible for its implementation.

Be able to set some time aside, with the support of others in your workplace, so that the programme can really flourish and so time is set aside for its implementation.

Set aside a permanent yearly budget. Embedding this within the culture of every organisation requires you to think on a long term, permanent basis.

Responsibilities of the employer

Allow the Mental Health First Aider to undertake appropriate training as required.

Communicate that this is not an obligatory role, even after having attended training.

Have a sufficient number of Mental Health First Aiders available to cover absence and when an someone would like to take time out from performing the role.

Provide support and debriefing opportunities, particularly when dealing with time consuming and challenging situations.

Advise the Mental Health First Aider if there are any psychological hazards in the workplace.

Clearly communicate to workers how they can access the help of a Mental Health First Aider in suitable public areas.

Provide an appropriate space within the workplace that is accessible and suitable for private conversations.

Ensure staff have access to Mental Health First Aiders always, where possible.

Instruct Mental Health First Aiders not to exceed providing help, which is outside the scope of mental health first aid – this is an early intervention role.

Encourage and allow time for peer support between all Mental Health First Aiders.

Ensure that staff know what to do in a mental health crisis.

Ensure workers understand what to expect/not expect from a mental health first aider regarding the level of help they can provide, confidentiality and reporting.

Provide the funding and time for the Mental Health First Aider to maintain their Mental Health First Aid (or equivalent) training.

Consider having Mental Health First Aiders at every level of your organisational structure and across the whole organisation. Sometimes staff want to speak to people at the same level as they are and/or want to speak to people they don’t know.

We are currently developing a Mental Health First Aid Champion programme with Apex City Hotels, running pilot workshops and creating the structure of how it will work in practice. We will use the learnings from this and turn it into an additional service that we can provide.

Simply get in touch to register your interest for running this programme in 2019.

Take action today