As an employer deciding to get Mental Health First Aiders trained up in your business is a great idea. But it requires more than just footing the bill!

These are the 7 things you need to do before you decide to go ahead.

  1. Ensure you have a Mental Health Strategy that has considered the issues within your company and what is the most effective response to this. Is male mental health a concern? Is absenteeism from stress an issue? For example – perhaps there is lots of change in the company – this is an issue that WILL create stress and associated mental health issues. If so you should be proactively acting to address this rather than waiting for the damage to be done!
  2. Consider all the specific issues attached to your employees’ mental health and wellbeing. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is predominantly about responding to a crisis – this is just one aspect of mental health. The focus should be on preventing mental health issues as well rather than reacting to crisis alone.
  3. Plan what the Mental Health First Aider will do to promote their new skills within the workplace. It should be presented as part of a whole business approach to mental health, not the only thing you are doing. Is this a recognised part of their role? Will they have time for it? How will you spread the word?
  4. Recognise that you have a Duty of Care and a legal responsibility for ensuring your employees are not harmed by their role. This means that you MUST be putting in preventative approaches for those whose mental health is harmed through the workplace. Having a Mental Health First Aider does not absolve you from this.
  5. Realise that managers are key to employee mental health and so must have training in employee mental health awareness. The research shows that managers have the greatest impact on employee mental health but minimal skills and knowledge about it. So this is imperative.
  6. There should be a policy and procedures to help managers support employee mental health. The research shows managers treat mental health very differently to physical health – often disciplining and sacking employees who disclose mental health conditions.
  7. Ensure there is a clear process for the role of the Mental Health Trainer. This should ensure:
  • There is ongoing support for the Mental Health First Aid trainer to ensure they can build on their skills; keep their skills up to date; and most importantly ensures their mental health is safeguarded – dealing with others mental health can have a negative impact on your own mental health. You have a Duty of Care as employer to ensure you safeguard the mental health of those who are helping others.
  • There is a clear process for reporting and acting upon issues identified in order to strategically respond to them
  • That confidentiality is ensured and this is communicated to the whole company as part of your mental health strategy


Adelle Shaw-Flach is a Director of The Sweet Potato Consultancy.  We work strategically with businesses to reduce the cost to people and business of workplace stress and mental health.

The Sweet Potato Consultancy provides both training and ongoing support  and advice to Managers and Mental Health First Aiders.

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