The MENTOR Study – Mental Health First Aid in the workplace
Mental health problems cost the UK economy between £70 billion and £100 billion annually and account for around 15.8 million working days being lost per year. For employers, the consequences of poor mental health among the workforce can include increased staff turnover, burnout, exhaustion and presenteeism. The annual cost to UK employers is estimated to be between £33 billion and £42 billion, aside from the personal costs to the individual. There is therefore increasing recognition of the need to address mental health in the workplace, and a number of initiatives have arisen in response.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an international training programme which trains individuals to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health problems. This enables them to initiate appropriate responses, such as listening, advising and signposting to other supports and services. In the UK, employers are increasingly funding members of their workforce to receive MHFA training, as it is regarded as an effective public health intervention for improving knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards mental health problems. However, MHFA is not specifically a workplace intervention and there has been little research conducted around its impact in the workplace or on the mental health of those receiving this support. The aim of the MENTOR study (MENtal health first aid in The wORkplace) was to investigate the implementation, use and utility of MHFA in the workplace.
There were three parts to the study. The first part was a scoping review to identify other training courses addressing mental health and suicide awareness used in workplaces. These were then compared with MHFA. The second part was a survey to investigate the extent and variability of the implementation of MHFA in organisations where at least one member of the workforce had received MHFA training. The third and final part involved interviewing participants from some of these organisations in order to gain richer insight into workplace MHFA implementation, use and utility. Here are some of the key results from the participants.
“Workplace mental health should now be a priority for organisations across the UK. We need the right leadership amongst employers in the public, private and voluntary sectors, and a mandate from policy-makers to deliver the mental health core and enhanced standards. Together we can support all employees, including those with mental health problems, to thrive in work..”
-Thriving at work The Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers October 2017
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