Mental Health First Aid- How to Implement it Within Your Organisation & How to Get the Boss Involved!

Mental Health First Aid- How to Implement it Within Your Organisation & How to Get the Boss Involved!

Whether you represent an organisation consisting of a handful of people or thousands, it is important to have wellbeing policies in place. A lot of the time, especially in small organisations of 1-5 people, these polices may not be written on paper, but there will be activities staff will do together that have the same effect.

In small organisations especially those with a good chemistry, staff will meet up after work, perhaps go for a quick drink and talk about what’s going on at work and in their personal life with their colleagues.

These “events”, all of course adhoc and off the record, have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing, team building and performance. They occur randomly and are not so much forced as in larger organisations who have a corporate social responsibility to implement, with set frameworks and times of delivery. These “bonding sessions” happen naturally and in peoples own time, they don’t have set criteria for discussions such as in appraisals for example.

However there are pros and cons to both, a well-balanced wellbeing policy will take the best from both worlds and combine!

People hate to admit it but we spend most of our lives at work, we spend more time with colleagues than we do with best friends and family. Does it then not make sense to make your colleagues like your best friends and family?

Idealistic, utopian I hear you think!

Agreed, and yes it’s not going to work for everyone, we like to have that professional and personal boundary but there is absolutely no harm in creating something as close as possible to that utopian fantasy right?

For an organisation, what does it have to lose or spend? Money?

What about the ROI of that investment?

In fact when you weigh up what can be gained from a balanced and well thought-out wellbeing and mental health policy, the pros far outweigh the cons.

Mental health first aid training, must be the foundation of any policy of this sort to be built upon. All staff must get some sort of mental health first aid training as a starting point, in order for a truly valuable mental health and wellbeing policy and practices to be developed

The best way for HR teams, CEO’s, shareholders, senior managers and managing directors to have an idea of how this works is to start with the hierarchy of the organisation, with an understanding that everyone needs to be involved even shareholders where possible!

The ultimate goal is to create a culture specific to the given organisation, a culture that the organisation can be identified by. This is why everyone needs to be involved in the process, otherwise there will be a missing link and that missing link will always be the weakness in the organisations vision on wellbeing

Let’s use the chart below as a reference

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Implementation MUST start from the top!

There are several reasons for this and it is something that I cannot overstate. If the boss does not understand what is going on, the organisation will eventually hit a brick wall in its mental health and wellbeing vision.

Alongside the Boss/CEO, HR teams should be the first to take mental health first aid training. Now let me tell you why, it is the responsibility of the HR team to ensure all staff are happy and relay back to the boss what’s good and what is not!

An extremely important process of communication for any organisation!

Now one of the biggest misconceptions within organisations is that the boss is some sort of superhuman, a Teflon Don that is not fazed by anything!

In reality this is the opposite of the truth, the boss will be the one more than likely going through the most and the worst of what professional life brings. The boss is also the one that will be feeling the most isolated due to the weight of what they carry day in day out. They will also be the one that feels they have nobody to talk to within the organisation.

They are more likely in need of this training than anyone else in an organisation, and possibly the one teetering on the verge of burn out or breakdown at any given point. Mental Health First Aid does not just train you to look out for others, but also teaches you to take care of your own wellbeing. It’s a 360 degree process.

HR teams will need to take a conscientious approach to this, it’s very much about the boss and the staff, hence the initial training has to involve the boss and the entire HR department.

Once this happens the rest of the policy and strategy will naturally fall into place. The saying goes happy staff happy company, this also works the other way around, happy boss happy company. That’s the “how to” approach needed to engage the boss when wanting to implement a fresh new approach to mental health first aid training. 

That then leaves the technical, finance and administration teams and the level of training required would depend on factors such as the workload and size of department. As a rule of thumb, the more contact with others, the bigger the workload, the higher the level of mental health first aid training needed.

 Then all it comes down to is identifying the level of training required, in mental health first aid, there are 3 levels.

Level 1 is a half day course which is best described as an introductory course which raises awareness of mental health covering:

– knowledge to recognise mental health issues

– Skills & confidence to start a conversation & signpost a person towards professional help.

Everyone from all ages and backgrounds can benefit from this course and is a valuable stepping stone into Mental Health First Aid. Even the temp and school work experience person should be given the opportunity to take this training.

You can learn more about the half day course here

Level 2 is a 1 Day course, this course covers the content and theory of the Level 1 and expands upon

– The impact of drugs and alcohol

– Includes First Aid for Mental Health Action Plan

– Identifies positive mental health culture can be supported within a workplace and life.

This course is perfect for supervisors and assistant managers who may not have contact or dialogue with a with a large number of staff. Perhaps they have 2-3 people they may be in charge of and works under and are managed by a mid-level/senior manager

You can learn more about the 1 day course here

The level 3 course is the full works and is best described as the 2 day course which qualifies you as a Mental Health First Aider covering:

–      The content and theory Level 2/5 Award in First Aid for Mental Health

–      Broader range of mental health conditions

–      Looks into the range of therapy and professional support available to person

–      Including professional bodies during treatment for a mental health issue

This is the course that everyone in HR must take no matter what level they work at within the HR department. This is also the course that everyone must take from mid-level management and above, all the way up to the CEO/Boss!

You can learn more about the 2 day course here

 So what does all this cost?

 Well this is where you will be pleasantly if not shockingly surprised.

Out of all the services an organisation can payout for, mental health first aid courses are the cheapest, yet have the biggest impact!

Courses start from around £100, at the highest end for a level 3 course around £180- £250. When booked in groups or through a consultation process with a provider, they become even more cost effective! Combine that with the fact that Delloite reported that for every £1 invested in mental health, an employer gets £5 back!

Yet another little something to put a smile on your bosses face! 

You can read the report here

So, whether you are a CEO, Boss, principal or an office junior in a HR department, or just a temp who wants to stay at the job. I have already done the explaining for you!

Oh and did I mention it is more than likely going to be law next year?

The Where’s Your Head At? campaign by MHFA England has already got over 200K signatures asking the government write it into legislation same as First Aid at Work

Here’s the article for the campaign and link to sign the manifesto!

So why not take this article to the right person right now? This will give your organisation the time to really develop good practices, instead of rushing it through to meet a legal time limit as many organisations did with GDPR.

Not to mention, this is much more important than GDPR!

Hopefully, this information may start the transition to transform your workplace into a much better place for you and everyone else that works there!

Bring on the mental health revolution!

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