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Effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid training called into question

Date: 
Thursday, 23 August, 2018 - 11:45
Category: 
Industry news
Location: 
National News

While Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training programmes can help in raising employees’ awareness of mental ill health conditions, there is no evidence that the introduction of such training in workplaces has resulted in sustained actions in those trained, or that it has improved the wider management of mental ill-health, according to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

MHFA training programmes originated in Australia in 2001 in response to survey findings showing poor mental health literacy amongst the public, and initially, a short MHFA training course was developed, comparable to conventional first aid training.

Subsequently, MHFA training has been taken up by other countries including in the UK, and in recent years there has been an interest in applying MHFA training in workplaces to provide early interventions to employees experiencing mental ill‐health problems in work, or as a consequence of their work.

HSE undertook a rapid scoping evidence review focusing on the impact, influence and application of MHFA training in workplaces, and it identified a number of knowledge gaps in the review which “mean it is not possible to state whether MHFA training is effective in a workplace setting,” HSE said.

“There is a lack of published occupationally-based studies, with limited evidence that the content of MHFA training has been considered for workplace settings.”

The review found that there:

  • Are only a small number of published occupational studies that have addressed mental health first aid (MHFA) and these had design and quality limitations.
  • Is limited evidence that the content of MHFA training has been adapted for workplace circumstances.
  • Is consistent evidence that MHFA training raises employees’ awareness of mental ill‐health conditions, including signs and symptoms.
  • Is limited evidence that MHFA training leads to sustained improvement in the ability of those trained to help colleagues experiencing mental ill‐health.
  • Is no evidence that the introduction of MHFA training has improved the organisational management of mental health in workplaces.

“There is consistent evidence that MHFA training raises employees’ awareness of mental ill‐health conditions, including signs and symptoms,” HSE said in its Summary of the evidence on the effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training in the workplace report.

“Those trained have a better understanding of where to find information and professional support, and are more confident in helping individuals experiencing mental ill‐health or a crisis.

“There is no evidence from the published evaluation studies that the introduction of MHFA training in workplaces has resulted in sustained actions by those receiving the training or that it has improved the management of mental health in the workplace.”