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Workplace mental health first aid means more than just box ticking

  • June 12, 2023

Clare Price, Director of Clinical Services at Onebright

For years there have been discussions about mental health first aid becoming a legal requirement in the workplace, but no Government to date has implemented a policy. It was good to see Mr. Russell re-introduce a bill in parliament in January, but we have to remember that it is very rare that ‘ten-minute bills’ such as this one become law.

The one thing it has done is get us all talking and thinking about how to best support employees and inspire effective change for the benefit of individuals across the country.

Previous studies have shown that providing mental health support can save businesses up to £8 billion* a year, with 70 million workdays being lost annually due to mental health-related issues. It is clear that companies at executive level should endorse mental health first aid in their organizational culture with open arms, however, it’s introduction should not become a way to tick a box.

With the introduction of remote and hybrid working over the years, businesses have had to adapt how they support their workforce, especially those who may find it difficult to cope with their mental and emotional wellbeing.

What to consider when implementing mental health first aid

The role of a mental health first aider sits entirely outside the role of HR, or senior management. They act as the first point of contact for employees to talk to when experiencing a mental health issue, which then helps sign post the employee to appropriate resources, whether that be an organizational support such as a wellbeing service or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or to their GP, the NHS or other recognized third sector and charity organisations.

The ease of accessibility to mental health first aiders is

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