Independent study reveals positive impact of mental health training

mental health training

New research by  the University of Nottingham, commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), shows Mental Health First Aid training has been highly effective at raising awareness about mental health in the workplace

The Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace (MENTOR) report, revealed 91% of the employees surveyed said there had been an increased understanding of mental health issues in their workplace as a result of the training. 

In addition, the MENTOR study shows that 88% of employees reported an increase in confidence around mental health issues in their workplace and 87% said that more mental health conversations were happening as a result.

A further 83% noticed an improvement in procedures for signposting to further support. 

More than half of the respondents (64%) reported that the training had helped to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace.

Welcoming the research, Fionuala Bonnar, Chief Operating Officer, Mental Health First Aid England, said: “Time and time again Mental Health First Aid is shown to be effective in increasing knowledge, confidence and skills necessary to support someone with mental health issues.   

“It’s encouraging to see that this latest piece of research adds to our evidence base and the report recommends that more could be done to strengthen the boundaries of a Mental Health First Aider in the workplace.

“This is something we will enhance as part of our existing course content and supporting materials and we will also be launching a refresher training course in early 2019 to ensure that skills are kept up to date at regular intervals.  

“More widely, the Health and Safety Executive announced this week that First Aid guidance has been updated to explicitly include mental health. So now there will be an even clearer focus on how the role of the Mental Health First Aider fits into a ‘whole organisation’ approach to mental health and wellbeing.”

In response to the report’s recommendations Mental Health First Aid England will commit to enhance its training offer by: 

  • Strengthening existing guidance on the boundaries and role of the Mental Health First Aider and include guidance for those trained as Mental Health Aware (Half Day) and as Mental Health First Aid Champions (One Day)  
  • Offering a Mental Health First Aid Refresher course in early 2019  
  • Commissioning the Centre for Mental Health to work with an academic partner to undertake a longitudinal study into the impact of Mental Health First Aid in the workplace, including the experience of the person supported by a Mental Health First Aider 

Currently, Mental Health First Aid England is delivering training into thousands of organisations across the country, including private and public bodies, schools, colleges, universities and the Armed Forces community.

Many of these organisations are reporting the positive impact that MHFA England training is having within their organisations and on their staff.

Discussing the impact Mental Health First Aiders have had on his organisation, Karl Simons, Chief Health, Safety & Security Officer, Thames Water said: “Stress, anxiety and depression contributes to over 40% of all our occupational health referrals.

“But thanks to our strategic approach to health and wellbeing we’ve seen sickness absence as a result of these issues fall by 75% over the last five years. 

“Our 350 Mental Health First Aiders are a key part of this approach and their introduction has led to a cultural revolution across the Thames Water.

They have been a catalyst for engagement and we now record five times as many Mental Health First Aid interventions compared to physical first aid interventions.” 

A recent RAND study commissioned by Public Health England studied 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). 

To find out more about the evidence base for Mental Health First Aid or to learn about MHFA England courses visit

To find out more about MHFA England’s campaign to change the law around First Aid visit 

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