Mental Health First Aid for business; but why?


“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”   Maya Angelou

Well the benefits of getting mental health into the workplace really could not be plainer…

It makes sense in business terms, research reported in the Independent found that FTSE 100 businesses that used the words ‘mental health’ or ‘wellbeing’ more than twice in their annual reports raked in up to three times more profit than those that did not.

It’s not all about the bottom line of course but what the bottom line indicates is a thriving business and no business thrives where staff are disconnected, disempowered and unhappy.

So, why are we so slow to really ‘get’ workplace mental health in the UK while in the USA it is recognised as an essential ingredient of successful business for years?

Perhaps it is our national tendency to the stiff upper lip and failing to regard our emotions as central to how we and others perform.

Mental health is not a mystery and it’s not complicated. What helps a person stay well helps an organisation to succeed. Educate leaders and managers about this, weave it into the tapestry of an organisation and the rest will follow.

Up to three times more profit, it makes perfect business sense.


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View from floor 15


“I haven’t changed but I am not the same”   Jason Dylan

Forty years I have spent in mental health and it had brought me here to the 15th floor in Canary Wharf. What was I doing here? I was training managers in the Financial Ombudsman Service, thereby completing a range of training that Get Mental Health Training have delivered here, including MHFA certificated programmes.

Admiring the view from this vantage point I had cause to pause and reflect on how things in and around mental health have changed over the years. It was not so long ago that mental health was the domain of psychiatry, clinicians and hospitals and other sectors were effectively blind to the ‘mysteries’ therein.

Now it has become the norm for society and industry to recognise our mental health as being central to our wellbeing and being at the heart of creating healthy workplaces and sustainable productivity.

I feel somewhat blessed at this point of my career to work across so many different industries and engage meaningfully with so many different people and to facilitate those ‘light bulb’ moments.

“Quite a view eh” the person standing next to me said “oh yes” I replied “quite a journey to”


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The bottom line


“Forget service improvement and just design services [our work places] that work properly”         Terry Young

I guess leaders can view their organisations in different ways, for example we can view them in terms of income & expenditure this leading us to focus on issues such as procurement costs, fee structure & seek to run them smarter & leaner & frankly why on earth not, the bottom line counts!

But when we take this approach do we miss some glaring human realities? For example mental health issues now count for 45% of all absence. Also what about presenteeism (turning up & going through the motions) the cost of which is so significant?

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What would be the effect on the bottom line if we could reduce staff absence, turnover & have motivated, engaged, enthused & creative teams? Significant no doubt.

Raising awareness around our mental health at work, developing our understanding, knowing how to respond appropriately when folks need support creates positive inclusive working cultures. In short look after the causes of long term health & the bottom line looks after itself.



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Pink & fluffy?


“Take nothing on its looks, take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule”                                                                  Charles Dickens

There are many influences on the way we understand leadership today, most notably the move away from a traditional rigid ‘male’ view of command, control and the obviously tangible. Now we lean towards a more insightful understanding that teams are the delivery agent and teams are comprised of individuals whose performance is dependent on their wellbeing.

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At the weekend the BBC showcased Warren Gatland, the Welsh rugby Coach, giving a team talk to a group of players noted for their tough & competitive focus on the bottom line; winning. In it he focussed on the players wellbeing and extended support for any issues the players may be struggling with in their personal lives, because, he said, these issues have a direct impact on individual and team performance.

Rugby is about as tough as it gets and it’s all about team performance and getting results. The result from the opening game of the six nations; Wales 34 : Scotland 7

Anyone still think that team wellbeing is pink and fluffy?


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Resolution Mental Health in 2018!



“When faced with the unknown, if we are to talk about it at all, the only language available to us is the language of our own experience”      D.W.D. Shaw

We know that you are otherwise perfect and so will have been struggling to find a new year’s resolution to improve the un-improvable right? thought not, moi aussi.

So by way of a nudge……could this be the year when we embrace the importance of our own mental health?

When mental health awareness week comes around on 14th May, perhaps we will be able to take a moment and pat ourselves on the back for the positive steps we have made at home or in the workplace, how will that feel?

Could this be the year when we acknowledge that our mental health underpins how we perceive ourselves, others and the world around us and we should look after it?

MHFA England continue to work toward this end and Deloitte have recently published their report ‘Mental Health & Wellbeing in employment’ which showed a tenfold return on investment in mental health training.

As part of stepping up our efforts on this quest we have today published a helpful resources page on our website. This is stuffed with useful links and information to help support individual’s mental health and increase the positive impact of raising awareness in the workplace.

Happy New Year; in 2018 let’s talk about mental health more!


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Don’t talk about mental health


“What is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 49?”

This is the question we asked our class of paramedics receiving their mental health training the other day…

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A number of good suggestions came forward; a heart attack, cancer perhaps, maybe a stroke or, thinking outside of physical health, road traffic accidents. Like the paramedics you may be surprised to know the answer is suicide, by a long way, hanging being the most common method.

To give you an idea of scale, there are approximately 1713 deaths by road traffic accidents per year (male & female) while 4287 men lose their life each year by suicide.
Three-quarters of all suicides in the UK are male – Office for National Statistics, (ONS) Statistical bulletin for the year 2016.

Why is this? Because we do not talk about mental health enough, men particularly, nor does society talk about suicide very readily.

Rays of hope; The times they are a changing – a recent masculinity audit shows men now view their mental health as more important than their physical health, with 46% of young men aged 18-29 saying they consider mental health to be very important.

In 2016 the suicide rates fell by 3.1% for men and 9.4% for women (ONS).

Perhaps we are ready to talk about it…


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Mental health & deaths in custody


                       “Take nothing on its looks, take everything on evidence.                             There is no better rule”   Charles Dickens

On 23 July 2015 the then Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon Theresa May MP announced a major review into deaths and serious incidents in police custody. This has just been published with much accompanying publicity – I have highlighted some key points raised in relation to mental health below:

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Several inquests over many years have highlighted police failure to recognise behaviour as the manifestation of mental ill health.

It notes the need for consistent national training for the police on dealing with mental ill health because it has become a major part of daily policing both with victims and suspects.

Research by the Guardian in January 2016 suggested that ‘UK police are spending as much as 40% of their time dealing with incidents triggered by some kind of mental health issue’.

In its submission to the HAC on Mental Health and Policing, the following was highlighted – ‘Disturbingly, a recent national custody survey of police inspectors identified that 76% had not received training in dealing with the mentally ill in custody’.

In oral evidence to this review, Michael Brown, the national mental health coordinator for the College of Policing, stated that new police recruits may only get six hours training in mental health awareness before graduation. His recent blog on this review can be found here.

Recommendations from the review include:
• Commitment and responsibility at leadership level is needed across police forces to ensure prioritisation of the issue of mental health and to bring about sustained cultural, organisational and practical changes.

• National, comprehensive, quality assured mental health training consistent with the above is needed for all officers in front-line or custody roles. This should span all new recruits and regular refresher training.


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