Mental health first aid benefits to be explored in academic study

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The impact that mental health first aid training has on employees and organisations is to be explored, as part of academic study into mental health first aid as a workplace health intervention.

The Empower research project, which will be carried out by the Centre for Mental Health and London South Bank University, will explore the benefits that mental health first aid (MHFA) training from a qualified professional has on employees and their organisations. It will also look at its economic impact and the effect MHFA has on organisation’s culture.

Starting in January 2020, the three-year project will compare organisations where employees are undergoing the adult MHFA two-day training course against employers not using the scheme.

Organisations that take part in the study will receive free training from a qualified Mental Health First Aid England professional, the researchers said.

Sarah Hughes, chief executive at the Centre for Mental Health, said: “We are delighted to be carrying out this important study to find out what happens after Mental Health First Aid training is delivered in the workplace. It’s a great opportunity to be able to offer free training to businesses that have never received mental health training before. Involving these businesses in the study will help us to find out what the health benefits for employees are, in practice.”

Simon Blake, chief executive at Mental Health First Aid England, which commissioned the research, said: “The Empower study will help us to understand the wider impacts of implementing Mental Health First Aid training in the workplace. It will also enhance our understanding of the impact that increased mental health awareness, knowledge and skills brings to the workplace – in particular with regard to encouraging help-seeking behaviour.”

Last year, University of Nottingham research found that there was often a lack of clarity around where the work of MHFA-trained employees extends to, which could sometimes result in “safety issues” for the trained person. This prompted MHFA England to produce employer guidance around setting boundaries for mental health first aiders. It is unclear, however, to what extent this latest study will interrogate or look further into these questions.

One Response to Mental health first aid benefits to be explored in academic study

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    Patricia ANNE Harriss 6 Nov 2019 at 12:54 am #

    Great this is being investigated. MHFA should be part of the picture. Just training MHF aiders is reactive. It should be part of a wider strategy involving risk assessments, effective organisational management including change management and policy development. Just nominating mental health first aiders in a poorly managed organisation is the equivalent of supplying a first aid box stocked with ambulance sized dressings next to a machine which lacks effective guards. The dressing materials can be used to stem bleeding hands resulting from fingers which have been trapped in the machine. Better to fix the problem and supply appropriate first aid boxes.

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