Trust to offer mental health first aid

Two cohorts of NHS staff are to undertake mental health first aid (MHFA) training, to ensure that its employees can receive first point of contact help and support whilst in the workplace.

Trust to offer mental health first aid

Approximately 30 members of staff from Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT) will undertake the internationally recognised training course.

Similar to traditional first aid, MHFA does not teach people how to treat or diagnose. Instead it teaches people how to offer initial support until appropriate professional help is available or until the crisis resolves.

Currently in the UK:

  • 1 in 4 people experience mental health issues each year.
  • 1 in 6 working-age adults have symptoms associated with mental ill health.
  • Mental ill health is responsible for 72 million working days lost and costs
    £34.9 billion per year.
  • The total cost of mental ill health in England is estimated to be £105 billion per year.
  • Those with a long-term mental health condition lose their jobs every year at around double the rate of those without a mental health condition. This equates to 300,000 people; the equivalent to the population of Newcastle or Belfast.
  • 70-75% of people with a diagnosable mental illness receive no treatment.*

The MHFA training teaches first aiders how to spot the critical signs and symptoms of mental ill health and to feel confident to guide someone to the appropriate support. The first aider acts as the point of contact and although they are not trained to be therapists or psychiatrists, they can offer initial support and non-judgmental guidance.

MHFA training was developed and launched in 2007 by the Department of Health, as part of a national approach to improving the public’s mental health. Since 2007, 1,800 mental health instructors have delivered MHFA courses to over 345,000 people. Over 25 countries are now taking part in MHFA and over 2.6 million people worldwide have received training.

Some of the aspects of MHFA training includes: how to spot the early signs and symptoms of mental ill health; how to have a supportive conversation; how to assess the risk of suicide or self-harm; how to maintain appropriate confidentiality and how to escalate to a suitable emergency service if necessary.

MHFA training also aims to encourage people to talk more freely about mental health, reduce stigma and to create a more positive culture in the workplace; by boosting knowledge and promoting early intervention.

Rachel Faulkner, Health and Wellbeing Lead for CFT commented: “Having completed the MHFA training, I would really encourage staff to attend the course. I am delighted that the Trust is committed to this agenda and to providing training and support to our staff.

“Prevention is always better than cure. If we can help encourage staff to spot signs early and provide early support and signposting, it has got to be a positive and proactive approach to supporting our wellbeing at work.”

“MHFA training is designed for staff to recognise the early signs of mental ill health in colleagues or those around them, and to signpost to local or in-house services. I’ve personally seen the benefits of MHFA training in my personal life as well as my work life” added Jess Harvey, who is also a Staff Health and Wellbeing Lead for CFT.

“Life changes all the time and usually it’s someone close to you, such as a colleague that spots the signs of mental ill health first.”