Choosing a Mental Health First-Aider (MHFA) provider

Choosing a Mental Health First-Aider (MHFA) provider

 13th August 2019

According to Mental Health First Aid England - 72 million working days are lost each year to mental ill-health - and the cost to employers totals £34.9 billion, so no wonder organisations are picking up the pace in prioritising employees Mental Health in the same way as regulatory needs, like First Aid.

What is a MHFA? Why is it important to have them in my organisation?

A Mental Health First-Aider’s  (MHFA) role is to act as a point of contact and reassurance for a person who may be experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress in the workplace. In the same way, we learn physical First Aid,  Mental Health First Aid teaches you how to recognise those crucial warning signs of mental ill-health.

Organisations have started to sit up and acknowledge the importance of investing in the mental health of their staff. This is more than just a box-ticking exercise: it’s a necessity. In the past, organisations have viewed mental health support as a ‘nice-to-have’. However, most are now looking at the long-term business benefits of investing in this kind of resource – and the results are outstanding.

Having Mental Health First Aider’s in your organisation gives your employees that extra bit of support. After all, the more we talk about mental health and make it less taboo, the more likely employees are to seek help at an early stage before problems escalate and affect business.

Investing in your employees’ mental health will, in turn, help you to reduce staff turnover, cut sick days and prevent presenteeism  (being present at one's place of work for more hours than is required). This is crucial, as the annual cost of mental health-related presenteeism (people coming into work and underperforming due to ill health) is £15.1 billion, or £605 per employee in the UK.

The likelihood of grievance and discrimination claims from unhappy staff will decrease, and you’ll be creating a healthy, happy workplace where your staff can be open and honest. There is a strong link between levels of staff wellbeing and performance – so taking a positive, proactive approach to mental health at work can help you to boost productivity and grow your organisation. It also helps you to demonstrate a commitment to corporate social responsibility.

How do I know if my organisation needs a MHFA?

Every organisation should have a MHFA. First Aid at work is an incredibly vital part of your health and safety procedure, and this needs to apply to mental health first aid too. If you haven’t got people in your business who can recognise the early warning signs of mental ill-health, the symptoms could go unnoticed – resulting in absence and loss of productivity. If a member of staff is in a crisis situation, it could potentially be life or death – and support from a trained MHFA could be just what they need to get their personal and professional life back on track.

Stress is the number one cause for absence in the UK, and studies have found that work was cited as the main cause of stress in people’s lives. Therefore, it’s vitally important that your staff feel supported at work – especially with a subject as sensitive as mental health.

The MHFA course is specifically designed to support individuals in dealing with ‘crises’ situations and offers participants the confidence, knowledge and understanding of mental health problems so they can support and guide colleagues appropriately.

What are the benefits of the MHFA course?

In a survey conducted by MHFA England, just 14% of workers felt comfortable discussing serious mental health conditions such as psychosis, schizophrenia and self-harm – whereas 40% felt able to talk about cancer. This goes to show just how much mental health is still seen as a taboo subject in the workplace.

The MHFA Course is quality mental health training underpinned by a robust wellbeing strategy. It gives you the tools you need to keep yourself healthy and support your colleagues by:

  • Building their confidence to be able to talk about mental health freely
  • Encouraging staff to access support at an early stage so problems don’t escalate
  • Empowering people that may be suffering with mental health issues to thrive at work
  • Breaking down the stigma – allowing staff to become more open, and in turn, productive
  • Creating a healthy, happy culture where staff recognise that both mental and physical health should be treated equally

In addition to all the above, there are major business benefits too. Not only will you reduce sick days (and the cost and productivity downfall associated with them), you’ll also be seen as a respected employer who values the health and wellbeing of its staff – something which can play a huge part in attracting and retaining talent.

There are so many providers out there – how do I know which one to choose?

Choosing a MHFA training provider can be a difficult task. With multiple providers claiming to do the exact same thing – so how do you know which one to choose?

Here are some factors to consider:

Look for a provider with evidenced experience

Some companies have been working in mental health training for years, and have invaluable experience. On the other hand, some general training providers don’t specialise in this area. It may be beneficial to go with a provider with specific experience in this area. Here at the Growth Company, we have over 20 years’ experience in the field. 

Is the provider accredited by a certified body and are the instructors' licensed mental health first aiders?

Not all providers are accredited - and with accreditation comes some real value. The MHFA England Instructor Training programme is accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health – so finding an instructor that is qualified by MHFA England is a great starting point.

MHFA England are internationally recognised and guarantee quality. They can help you meet the recommended core standards that were set out for all employers in the Government’s Thriving at Work report - and the MHFA course is grounded in research and tested with lived experience of mental health.

They are also the sole organisation in England permitted to provide Mental Health First Aid Instructor Training licensed by Mental Health First Aid International, the global community that has trained over three million people.

What is the provider’s track record like?

Do some research on their experience. MHFA first came to England in 2007 under the Department of Health. Has the provider been delivering since the start? Or are they fairly new to delivering this training? MHFA England have 10 years’ experience delivering MHFA training and is the original provider of Mental Health First Aid skills in England. Does your provider have an impressive track record like this?

Does the organisation have a community to support you after training?

Whilst choosing the right instructor and provider is important – it’s also equally important to research what is available to you afterwards. MHFA training doesn’t stop the minute you finish the two-day course. You’re going to have questions, and things will crop up along the way which you may need support in dealing with: this is where the community comes in.

With thousands of people undertaking this course every week, there is a need for participants to come together to share best practice and offload. Dealing with crises situations is, in turn, going to affect you, so it’s important that there’s a support network in place to help.

MHFA offers a network which is available to everyone who takes training certified by them. This gives Mental Health First Aiders a community in which they can talk to other first aiders and share best practice, discuss mental health or simply seek support after a challenging day.

Why choose us?

Whilst we are an accredited Mental Health First Aid course provider, we also deliver a plethora of accompanying courses that compliment MHFA. We’re committed to creating healthier working environments, and our sole purpose is to ensure that your staff are happy and healthy at work.

As an award-winning, not-for-profit organisation, all the money we make is reinvested back into the company so that we can constantly improve and develop our services for our customers.

Our Mental Health programmes are not simply about developing a cohort of First Aiders but creating a cohort that is in tune with the organisation’s wellbeing vision. Our wealth of experience in Mental Health lies both personally and in the workplace.

We’re proud to be certified by MHFA England. All of our instructors are licensed Mental Health First Aiders, and each boasts a wealth of expertise.  

We have courses running in Machester, Newcastle, Leeds and London. To find out more about how we can help your organisation and for more information on our Mental Health First Aider courses – please contact us on 0161 237 4200 or visit our website -

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