First aid regs could soon cover mental health

mental health

Following a debate that saw MPs in the House of Commons back a campaign to establish a legal duty on employers to train staff in mental health first aid, PETA have announced that they will be offering two courses on the subject from June onwards.

Mental health issues have become more and more recognised and accepted over the years and it is finally something that people feel able to talk about without it being considered a taboo subject. With this in mind, the time has come for mental health to be addressed in the workplace.

Why does mental health need to be addressed?

  • Recent Health and Safety Executive statistics show that 595,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety cases in 2017/18 with 15.4 million working days lost - more than by any other cause.

  • These stats also showed that small workplaces had a statistically significantly lower rate of work-related stress, depression or anxiety whilst large workplaces had statistically significantly higher rates. Medium enterprises were somewhere in between.

  • The main causes of work-related stress, depression or anxiety according to the Labour Force Survey (2009/10-2011/12) was workload, in particular tight deadlines, too much work or too much pressure or responsibility. Other factors identified included a lack of managerial support, organisational changes at work, violence and role uncertainty.

More about the campaign

The campaign, Where’s Your Head At? is calling for the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations to be amended to include a legal responsibility for employers to train staff in mental health first aid and that employers first aid duties must cover both physical and mental health.

MPs from across the five main political parties spoke in support of the issue as part of a Backbench Business Committee debate in January, with all of them recognising the importance of addressing the need for improved first aid support in the workplace.

The motion was presented by a cross-party trio of MPs including Luciana Berger MP (Lab), Norman Lamb MP (Lib Dem) and Jonny Mercer MP (Con). The speaker concluded at the end of the debate that the ayes had it, signalling the majority view that First Aid Regulations need to be updated to ensure that mental health is treated equally to physical health in the workplace.

Simon Blake, Chief Executive, Mental Health First Aid England, said: “We need the law to change to put mental and physical first aid on an equal footing in the workplace. This proposed change is backed by some of the UK's biggest businesses, the general public and Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum. The government has made some clear commitments to achieving parity of esteem for mental health, a vision that we and many other mental health organisations share. Updating the current first aid regulations to include mental health would move us one step closer to achieving this equality and we believe that it really is a case of when, not if, this change in law will happen.”

Where’s Your Head At? was launched in May 2018 by mental health campaigner Natasha Devon MBE, Bauer Media UK and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England. Over 200,000 members of the public showed their support for the campaign by signing a petition, which was delivered to Downing Street in October.

If legislation is changed to include mental health in first aid training, it is important that employers do not allow their staff to do the training and that’s the end of it; it must be something that is also implemented into the workplace ethos, and not simply a ‘tick the box’ exercise.

Get your training at PETA

PETA are now offering two courses in support of this campaign, for employers who want to get ahead and provide essential staff training in mental health first aid to promote recognition, understanding and support being on hand for staff who may be experiencing mental health issues.

Mental Health First Aid Champions is a one-day course tailored for managers, team leaders and those with health and safety responsibilities. It will cover topics such as mental health and stress in the workplace, depression, anxiety disorders, applying the mental health first aid action plan and building a mentally healthy workplace. The first course will take place on 17 June.

Mental Health First Aid is a two-day course aimed at senior managers and HR professionals. Day one will cover many topics including the impact of mental health issues, stigma and discrimination, what is depression, non-judgemental listening skills, and first aid for depression. Day two will cover many topics, a selection of which include anxiety disorders, cognitive distortions and CBT, personality disorders, psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and recovery and building resources. The first course is scheduled for 9 and 10 July.

Benefits of this training for employers

  • You’ll have trained staff who will be able to support other staff experiencing mental health issues
  • If well supported at work, issues may be resolved faster resulting in fewer sick days and less staff off on long-term sick
  • It will raise awareness of mental health, meaning that staff may feel less isolated and keen to address their issues
  • Could promote a wider understanding about mental health
  • Overall productivity could be improved

Find out more about PETA’s Mental Health First Aid courses or book your place on 023 9253 8700 or

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