One step closer for workplace mental health first aiders
Health & Safety
A Bill to make mental health first-aid part of workplace first-aid training requirements took a step closer in the House of Commons last month. Watford MP Dean Russell introduced the First-Aid (Mental Health) Bill on 23 March 2021 which aims to make mental health first aid part of normal physical first aid at work, by having a mental health first aider in every workplace.
In his speech when delivering the Bill, the MP, Dean Russell said
‘My proposal is a simple one. It is to ask not for a recommendation or a guideline but for a law to ensure that all workplaces have the right capacity to deal with people who may be going through difficulties.’
Currently, guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises employers that mental health first aid should be considered as part of a first aid needs assessment and employers can decide if it would be beneficial to have personnel trained to identify and support someone who might be experiencing a mental health issue.
Russell went on to say
‘I want to assure colleagues that the Bill is not asking too much of business. Just as physical first aiders are not expected to be trained doctors or paramedics, mental health first aiders are not expected to be counsellors or full-time psychotherapists. The training simply provides the skills for the first aider to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue. This could be done through mandating accredited mental health first aider training, or perhaps just through requiring the inclusion of the existing Public Health England psychological first aid training.’
The Bill has some way to go still, after a second reading there are further debates and amendments before it can reach the House of Lords for further readings and eventually becoming law.