83 percent of training participants have observed an improvement in procedures for signposting to further support at their workplace.
Mental Health First Aid England, the primary training providers for the country, have shared 'results' data to coincide with this year's World Mental Health Day.
The organisation trained 140,379 people in mental health first aid, skills and awareness, over the last year. But it has struggled to demonstrate its 'success rate' since the scheme was originally conceived in Australia more than two decades ago.
A study commissioned by Public Health England reviewed 117 mental health and wellbeing programmes and found MHFA England training to be among the top five identified as meeting the highest standards of evidence (Nesta level 3).
The study investigated employees’ views on the impact of MHFA England training in their workplace. Participants were asked what had changed in their workplaces as a result of MHFA England training. Responses included:
o 91% said there had been an increased understanding of mental health issues in their workplace
o 87% said more mental health conversations were happening at work
o 83% had noticed an improvement in procedures for signposting to further support
Mental Health First Aid England now plans to delve deeper. It has commissioned the Centre for Mental Health and London South Bank University to conduct a three-year research project to study the impact of MHFA England interventions in the workplace.
MHFA England says it already sits on a "uniquely strong evidence base" of over 70 studies which demonstrate the effectiveness of MHFA training in increasing mental health awareness, knowledge and confidence in how to support a person experiencing mental ill health.
Fashion retailer Next have put several of their staff members forward for Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England training. The retailer recognises the importance in creating an open working place where mental health can be discussed without judgement, and where those who present with mental ill health are properly supported and directed to the most appropriate service for them.
"I have been helping people with their mental health issues at our site for over three years now and get a lot of positive feedback," says Trish, a manager at Next who trained as a Mental Health First Aider.
"I feel the best thing I can do for people is listen and be there, I am not qualified to give advice so I don't but they do tell me that just having someone to talk to is enough. Training with Mental Health First Aid England has helped to make starting that conversation easier - the course I took gave me the knowledge and skills to offer this support on a first aid basis."
"If you’re struggling with your mental health in the workplace, speak to the people you feel comfortable with. You’ll find that once you talk about it, there is a lot of support available to you."
"For my team, simply knowing that I’ve got that awareness and understanding has made a huge difference."
Nicky Watson is an Office Manager for Cook & Turnbull Painting Contractors. The construction industry is predominately male orientated and men have been found to be statistically less likely to discuss their mental health with one another. The industry has the highest rate of suicide of any sector – two people take their lives every day.
Nicky felt it was important to be able to support and recognise colleagues struggling with mental health in the workplace. "The course was very informative and relaxed," she said.
"We discussed difficult situations and I felt comfortable sharing my experiences with the group and with Mental Health First Aid England’s instructors who facilitated the session. It opened my mind to just how important mental health is and made me more aware of the sorts of issues people struggle with and how to provide support on a first aid basis."
"One colleague suffers with anxiety and I have been able to relate to him and help support him to manage his condition at work, which has resulted in him having less sick days now."
On an economic level, the business cost of mental ill-health at work is almost £35 billion a year nationwide. There is increasing understanding that employers can reduce some of these costs by taking positive action to improve mental health at work and create healthier, more productive businesses.
Over the next six years, MHFA England aims to train one in ten of the adult population in MHFA skills to create a "cultural tipping point" where awareness of and support for mental health is equal to that of physical health.
The goal forms part of the organisation's 'Strategy 2025'.