The Importance of Mental Health First Aid

The importance of Mental health has often been overlooked in the workplace, but it is imperative that it is neglected no more. 1 in 4 people experience a mental illness each year, and 1 in 6 report experiencing a common mental issue each week in the UK. This may be because of the home life, work life, or social life of an individual. Recognising the symptoms in oneself and others can be an almost impossible task without the right training. It can be challenging to know how to help someone struggling with a mental issue, but one way to change that is through Mental Health First Aid.

Mental Health First Aid teacher

What actually is Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)?

An MHFA course raises awareness of the importance of prioritising mental health in the workplace. It teaches you the skills and knowledge required to be able to provide the correct support and intervene safely, if necessary.

Participants in an MHFA course learn how to recognise and identify the signs of mental struggles in themselves and others. Some of the topics covered include:

How to conduct a risk assessment while assisting an individual

Be able to provide the right support

Identifying and understanding self-harm, PTSD, OCD, as well as eating disorders

What factors can affect mental health

And many others

Physical First Aid has been a legal requirement in the workplace since the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations of 1981. However, mental health First Aid is still only a recommendation and not legislation. This means that MHFA is often overlooked when it is just as important as physical First Aid. Physical first-aid courses have been well documented, but the importance of Mental Health First Aid is still undervalued. The purpose of a mental health risk assessment is to assess the likelihood of a person with a mental illness causing harm to themselves and others. This is a crucial stage of evaluation before returning to work, as it reduces the likelihood of any safety risks. One of the main duties of a Mental Health First Aider in the workplace is to be a responsible helping hand for employees experiencing mental struggles or emotional distress.

The Right Support

Being able to provide the right support is imperative when helping those experiencing mental struggles. Guiding someone to the correct help can be an immensely difficult task, but MHFA teaches you how to do it safely and effectively. The right support can help endlessly, as it can improve the condition of the illness.

Mental struggles can occur to anyone, and some factors that negatively affect mental health are past trauma or childhood abuse, social isolation, stress, physical health problems, as well as many others. The factors negatively affecting mental health are often overlooked and disregarded; however, MHFA showcases the importance of understanding each variable. Additionally, recognising the symptoms of different mental disorders can lead to their identification.

The support and guidance of mental health first aid

Mental Disorders

Mental disorders can be defined as the conditions affecting a person’s thinking, mood and behaviour. They can impact the daily functioning and quality of life of someone struggling. Some common disorders include: depression, anxiety, bipolar, and schizophrenia. MHFA gives you the skills and ability to identify the symptoms of each disorder and provide the necessary support.

The treatment for mental disorders can include treatments, such as: psychotherapy, medication and lifestyles. The identification and early intervention of a mental disorder often leads to improved treatment, and a significantly improved outcome. There is still a huge stigma when it comes to mental disorders. The stigma is born out of a lack of understanding of the importance of mental health, this means that education is key to breaking it down. Offering empathy to someone struggling can be of vital importance as they know they are not alone.


To conclude, Mental Health First Aid is not a legal requirement but it is vitally important in ensuring the well-being of all those in the workplace. Mental disorders are a critical issue that deserves attention and compassion. One way to give it the attention required, is education through Mental Health First Aid. MHFA allows you to provide the right support and intervene, if necessary, If you are interested in enrolling on a Mental Health First Aid course then click here.

More Health and Safety Blog Posts

Previous Post
What is Construction H&S Auditing?