HSE Mental Health First Aid in the
The Health and Safety Executive
(HSE) have announced
changes to the guidance covering employers’ responsibilities to
their employees. Employers now need to consider making provision to
cover Mental Health First Aid training in addition to First Aid at
How will the HSE changes affect me?
Employers need to treat mental health in a
similar way to physical health. Employers are encouraged to take
steps to consider employee’s mental health in order to support
their employee’s wellbeing to provide a safe working
environment. A needs assessment of the workplace could be
undertaken and strategies implemented to address any risks and
This is a recommendation, not legislation, so there is no set
date when workplaces will have to have sufficient mental health
What action should I take?
Due to recent HSE guidance,
organisations should consider:
Ensuring that their health and safety
risk assessments take into account of mental – not just physical –
health and risks
Managing and mitigating the risks of
harm in the workplace and having ways to support people with mental
Treating mental health in a similar way
to physical health - such as by having as many first aiders for
mental health as for physical health (if appropriate).
In light of this guidance,
organisations may feel it is beneficial to:
Have qualified Mental Health First
Aiders in the workplace. This includes adequate cover for periods
of absence or multiple workplace sites. Some training courses, such
as St John Ambulance Mental Health First Aid training courses, are
accredited by Mental Health First Aid England. View our courses here.
Consider the recommendations (‘Core
Standards’ ) of the
Thriving at Work: Stevenson/Farmer review
Encourage all staff to maintain a
mentally healthy workplace through mental health awareness training
Ensure that HR policies and practices
recognise the needs of those with mental health conditions. Read
our advice on conducting a
Mental Health Risk Assessment and creating a
workplace wellbeing policy.
Have a clear and well – communicated
mental health wellbeing policy. Our
research suggests 80% of employees weren’t sure if their
company had a mental health wellbeing policy. By failing to respond
appropriately to an employee with a mental health issue, an
organisation may open itself to a claim for compensation. This
could be lengthy, expensive, and take precious time away from
managers and staff.
What is Mental Health First Aid?
Mental Health First Aid is one element of
mental health provision in the workplace. Mental Health First Aid training courses teach
managers and staff how to spot signs and symptoms of common mental
health issues, provide non-judgemental support and reassurance, and
guide a person to seek professional support they may need to
Mental Health First Aiders are employees who have received
training in Mental Health First Aid. Just like physical first
aid, it will teach an individual how to listen, reassure and
respond, even in a crisis – and even potentially stop a crisis from
How many Mental Health First Aiders do I need?
Employers have a legal duty to protect
employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting
It is a government priority to establish parity between physical
and mental health first aid, therefore we recommend that employers
should be striving to achieve parity between the two provisions
within the workplace.
Depending on the size of your workforce, you may need to
train an appropriate number of Mental Health First Aiders.
What hasn’t changed?
The new guidance doesn’t replace any
existing guidance for employers regarding First aid at work.
Provision of care within the workplace is not intended to replace
professional mental health care/therapy. The Mental Health First
Aid courses do not enable an individual to act as a mental health
professional such as therapist or psychiatrist.
There is already existing guidance and regulations around stress
in the workplace, in addition to this latest guidance. For example,
guidance for stress in the workplace state that employees have
a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a
risk assessment and acting on it. HSE’s Management Standards
approach to tackling work-related stress establishes a framework
across six key areas of work to help employers tackle work-related
stress and, as a result, also reduce the incidence and negative
impact of mental ill health.
Which Mental Health First Aid course is right for me?
St John Ambulance provides 5 courses to
suit a variety of employee needs. All our courses are accredited by
Mental Health First Aid England.
Why train with St John Ambulance?
St John Ambulance is the nation’s
largest first aid training provider, delivering quality training
courses that enable thousands of people to save lives.
We’re using our extensive training experience in collaboration
with Mental Health First Aid England to deliver internationally
recognised Mental Health First Aid courses. So far,
we've taken over 6,000 bookings for our Mental Health First
Aid courses. In 2019, we are expanding our suite of
courses and will be delivering Youth Mental Health First Aid training courses
for professionals working with young people.
We are committed to improving mental health in the workplace;
Embedding Mental Best Practices in the Workplace Summit 2018
will be a key opportunity for professionals to learn from industry
leaders and clinical experts on how to implement a resilient and
practical approach to workplace mental health and stress.
Will there be future changes?
The guidance around mental health is
constantly evolving to meet the needs of the modern workforce.
We're here to cut through the complexities and make sure you have
everything you need to stay on top of your workplace first aid
requirements. There are several ways to make sure you know
everything you need to:
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What have Mental Health First Aid England said?
Simon Blake OBE, CEO Mental Health
First Aid England commented:
“We have worked in close collaboration with HSE to ensure that
mental health is explicit in the guidance that employers refer to
when assessing their needs around First Aid, so we very much
welcome today’s announcement. There is no golden bullet when it
comes to workplace mental health and Mental Health First Aid
training is just one part of the wider strategic approach that we
recommend organisations adopt.
“Today’s guidance is an important step towards supporting
employees’ mental health but we are clear that equality will only
truly be reached when the law demands that every workplace must
make provision for mental, as well as physical, first aid. We look
forward to achieving legislative change so that Health and Safety
regulations are designed to protect our whole health, mental and