The Importance of Mental Health First Aiders in the Workplace

The Importance of Mental Health First Aiders in the Workplace

It is standard for workplaces to have assigned Health & Safety Officers, Fire Wardens and First Aiders, but until recently, few people had even heard of a Mental Health First Aider. With Awareness around mental health improving massively in recent years, Mental Health First Aid Courses are thankfully becoming more commonplace. At Proactive Personnel, we now have staff members at different levels and across departments who have completed their MHFA training.

As it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to take a closer look at what is involved in being a Mental Health First Aider and why it’s so important that appointing these roles becomes an integral part of company culture.

What is a Mental Health First Aider?

While not qualified to be counsellors or therapists, MHFAs are intended to be a point of call in the workplace for any members of staff that may be struggling with their mental health. They are trained recognise the red flags and symptoms of some of the most common forms of mental illness including anxiety, stress and depression – so that they can help colleagues

The training also covers how these individuals can go about helping those who are struggling mentally, in the same way a regular First Aider would treat physical injury or illness. Training is designed to remove the stigmas surrounding Mental Health and provides participants with the communication skills required as well as a good knowledge of support methods and treatment pathways.

Ultimately, MHFAs become Advocates for Mental Health matters and awareness within the workplace.

Members of the Proactive Team undertook a month-long Mental Health First Aid L2 course, which included modules on:

  • Exploring Mental Health
  • Understanding how to support individuals with mental ill-health
  • Understand a mentally healthy environment

The Importance of MHFAs in the Workplace

There are so many benefits to training members of staff in this special type of First Aid.  Thankfully, Mental Health is being discussed more than ever in many workplaces, homes and in the media and many stigmas around the subject are being shed. Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and mental health issues as the cause of a large percentage of absences at work.

Having assigned specialists in mental health is a great way to show staff that they are appreciated and valued – and that their mental health is a priority. These trained individuals can often spot the early ‘red flags’ and can step in or offer support before a situation becomes a mental health crisis.

As a result, productivity can increase, absences can decrease and staff morale can greatly improve.

Proactive’s Mental Health First Aiders

At Proactive, we believe it is crucial to have staff members that have been trained in this special type of First Aid. We are a large company with over 100 members of staff internally – as well as many candidates that we place out to roles with our clients. Therefore, we value the importance of ensuring our employees feel supported and that Mental Health awareness is made a priority.

Members of the Proactive Team undertook a month-long Mental Health First Aid Level 2 course, which included modules on:

  • Exploring Mental Health
  • Understanding how to support individuals with mental ill health
  • Understand a mentally healthy environment

All found the course to be massively beneficial in giving them the necessary tools and knowledge to support not only their colleagues, friends and family – but also themselves. Here’s some feedback from a few of those who took part:

“I personally wanted to do the MHFA course to increase my knowledge about mental health problems. The course has given me the skills to support friends, family members and colleagues. I am no expert or counsellor but I am here to be a first point of contact; this may just be a chat and cuppa but I am here to listen, be non-judgemental and can help point staff in the right direction of help or resources.” Stacey Jacques (Personnel Manager)

“As a Regional Director of the business, I decided to enroll on the Mental Health qualification as I feel it is important for us to have awareness at a Senior Management level. We need to recognise mental health in the workplace, as this can have a significant impact on staff morale and can influence personal performance. The course was informative and provided us with clear guidance to be able to offer support to our staff who maybe suffering from any aspect of mental health. It covered a broad spectrum of issues that affect our Mental Health. Following a very difficult 12 months due to the pandemic, it has been a key topic for us to develop our knowledge on and the course has been invaluable. Recruitment is a very people-focused industry, therefore it important for us to be at the forefront in supporting our teams.” Kerry McNee (Regional Director)

“I wanted to do the mental health first aid course as I recently lost a friend to suicide due to mental health issues. I wanted to understand how we can help and support our staff and I found that being able to listen without judgment and for people to know that there is someone there that they can speak to about how they are feeling is really important. Having personal wellbeing plans in place for staff coupled with an understanding of our staff’s baseline will aid us in identifying those that may be suffering with their mental health which, in turn, could help them take the first steps to get the help and support they need.” Sammy Taylor-Bell (Partner)

“The reason for getting involved with the Mental Health course was to get a better understanding of how I can identify and help not only myself but my colleagues, friends and family. We spend the majority of our time at work and we all experience a roller coaster of emotion on a day-to-day basis and that’s why it’s so important that we maintain a healthy and enjoyable working environment.” Jak Turner (Industrial Department Manager)

For helpful resources and more information on Mental Health Awareness Week, visit: