Mental Health in the workplace – Could you be a life saver?

Mental health blog header

Imagine yourself by the seaside with the heat of the sun shining down on you. Then you notice a lifeguard sitting high up on his lookout, and you think what a great job that is. From afar, it looks like he’s doing absolutely nothing but getting a suntan! In actual fact, he’s keeping an eye on all the people at sea, in case of any danger. Could we be a lifesaver at work?

What do I mean? We are all aware of first aiders in the workplace; we may be trained ourselves, but have you ever heard of a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA)? What is a MHFA? What does the role involve? Could my place of work benefit from this in 2023?


What is a MHFA?

In general, the role of a MHFA in the workplace is to be a point of contact for an employee who is experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. How could this person help? This interaction could range from having an initial conversation through to supporting the person to get appropriate help. 


How would my workplace benefit from having a MHFA? 

Mental health doesn’t have a “look.” A person can appear “happy” and still suffer mentally. Simply put, you can appear to be perfectly fine and in control while suffering from the crippling effects of mental illness on the inside. A MHFA is a qualification you can train in to notice even the invisible in your workplace. 


Is having a MHFA a legal requirement?

No, having MHFA certification isn’t a law. But it’s still a good idea for employers to have someone trained in this area, just like they would for physical health. It’s all about creating a safe and healthy environment for your employees. You can even do a check-up to see what kind of support your team needs and put plans in place to help out.


How many MHFA’S do I need? 

In an ideal situation, employers should aim to have as many first aiders for mental health as they would for physical health.


What is the impact of poor mental health in the workplace? 

According to The Mental Health Foundation:

  • 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace (14.7%).
  • 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.

Research has also shown that Mental illness costs UK businesses around £35 billion every year*

  • £10.6 billion lost to sickness absence,
  • £21.2 billion in reduced productivity,
  • £3.1 billion in substituting employees members who vacate their roles due to mental illness

(*figures taken from Office of National Statistics)


What are the benefits of training employees to hold MHFA certification?

A lot of people don’t know how to spot the signs or what to do about it. With this training, your workers will be able to help out their colleagues who might be struggling. Plus, it can make a big difference for someone who’s dealing with a mental health problem but doesn’t know where to turn for help.

Taking part in a MHFA course can:

  • raise awareness of mental illnesses,
  • encourage early intervention to aid recovery,
  • increase confidence in dealing with mental illnesses
  • reduces stigma around mental health issues.

How can I find out more about the advantages of being a MHFA?

St John’s Ambulance website provides a host of information, along with details of courses available and how to book them.

In 2023, we all want to be productive and work in the best environment possible. In your workplace, you may have people who would really benefit from having someone on the lookout at all times, just like a lifeguard. You never know, you could be a life saver.


If you need guidance and support when it comes to HR then Pink Pig HR is here to help, drop us an email to