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Refresher course launches to bring Mental Health First Aid England training in line with physical first aid

In May this year MHFA England called on all employers to sign the Where’s Your Head At?

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, the social enterprise offering expert guidance and training to support mental health in the workplace and beyond, is today launching a new Refresher course. The course is designed to keep anyone who has completed its Mental Health First Aid training up-to-date in their knowledge and skills.

The Refresher course is a key part of MHFA England’s vision to ensure mental health is treated equally to physical health. Mental health first aid is a set of skills and knowledge that needs regular refreshing and practice, just like physical first aid. The new Refresher course will support and empower current Mental Health First Aiders and MHFA Champions by renewing their skills annually and providing them with fresh confidence to perform their role safely and effectively. This training follows recent guidance issued by MHFA England on the role and implementation of MHFA in the workplace.

Currently, mental ill health costs employers up to £42 billion each year with over 300,000 people falling out of work due to poor mental health. More organisations are waking up to these facts and implementing measures to improve mental health in the workplace. Nearly 500,000 people in England and nearly 3 million people worldwide have been trained in MHFA skills to recognise mental ill health and help people find the support they need to stay well. In England alone, MHFA England has trained people in over 20,000 organisations.

Mental health awareness and skills training is one part of the long term action needed to protect and support the mental health of the nation and should form part of a whole systems approach. In the workplace, Mental Health First Aid training is a key part of the wider wellbeing plans all employers must develop to support their people to thrive.

In May this year MHFA England called on all employers to sign the Where’s Your Head At? Workplace Manifesto which sets out four keys ways in which organisations can improve the mental health of their workforce. In just five months over 250 employers have pledged their support. The Refresher course is one way employers who have adopted Mental Health First Aid training, can renew their commitment to treat mental health as equal to physical health.

The new Refresher course will allow anyone who has successfully completed MHFA England’s Two Day or One Day courses to keep their skills up-to-date. It aims to ensure participants keep their awareness of mental health supports current; update their knowledge of mental health and what influences it; and practice applying the Mental Health First Aid action plan. MHFA England recommends that all Mental Health First Aiders and Mental Health Champions re-take the full course every three years, as you would with physical first aid.

Commenting on the launch, Simon Blake OBE, Chief Executive of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England said: “Mental health training is a crucial pillar of any organisation’s wellbeing strategy and a key driver of continued organisational success. With the introduction of the Refresher course we are bringing Mental Health First Aid in line with typical physical first aid practice, as part of our commitment to delivering equality on mental and physical health.

“Mental health first aid training is one part of how employers can provide better mentally healthy workplaces for all but should not be approached as a tick box exercise. Organisations who choose to invest in refreshing these skills as part of their mental health strategy are signalling their long-term commitment to improving mental health in the workplace.”

A spokesperson for the Civil Service, following delivery of the MHFA Refresher to a cross-government group of Mental Health First Aiders, said:

“Supporting the mental health of Civil Service employees is hugely important to us. Mental Health First Aiders (or equivalent) form a key part of this support. Colleagues who had been undertaking the role for some time had identified and shared a need to refresh their knowledge, skills and practical application.

We therefore approached Mental Health First Aid England and commissioned a half day pilot MHFA Refresher training event. The Refresher training offer was delivered to a group of 24 participants and included providing attendees with an MHFA Refresher manual and Line Manager Resource. Post-event feedback indicated that the training was well received and fully met our needs.”

For more information on the course visit: https://mhfaengland.org/organisations/workplace/refresher/

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