Study identifies ingredients of successful MHFA programme

Study identifies ingredients of successful MHFA programme

A new study for health and safety practitioners’ body IOSH has identified the active ingredients and barriers to success for employers running a mental health first aid (MHFA) programme.

Two people discussing mental health

However, researchers warned that the approach does not address underlying organisational issues contributing to mental ill health, such as work organisation or job design.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham and London South Bank University interviewed 19 MHFA-trained staff from six organisations about their experiences and attitudes towards MHFA. The findings may prove useful for reps whose employers have, or intend, to introduce a MHFA programme – ideally as a result of carrying out a full stress risk assessment.

The three ingredients for successful workplace MHFA were:

  • clear rationales for introducing training
  • well-motivated MHFA coordinators, who can provide support to MHFAers, deal with issues and concerns and lead MHFA networks, and
  • the existence of MHFA networks, allowing experiences to be shared and problem-solving to take place.

Barriers to the success of the MHFA programmes included:

  • challenges around measuring impact and success due to the difficulties in establishing and recording when people are successfully acting as a MHFAer;
  • work and time pressures, including management reservations about the time needed for staff to attend the course, concerns about whether MHFA responsibilities may be too onerous and difficulties faced by individuals in balancing the role with their job;
  • lack of boundaries and safeguards within the role of the MHFA-trained person; employers should provide clarity around roles, responsibilities and remits; and
  • how staff members identify trained MHFAers and how the role is promoted.

Read the full study