A ground-breaking new study evaluating the impact of mental health first aid interventions in the workplace, conducted by the by Centre for Mental Health and London South Bank University (LSBU) is inviting employers to get involved in the research with an offer of free mental health workplace training. 

Starting in January 2020, the ‘Empower’ research project, which has been commissioned by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, will be carried out over three years. It is the first academic study of its kind in the UK to explore the benefits to employees of mental health first aid intervention dispensed in the workplace by a trained Mental Health First Aider (MHFAider). 

The research will take the form of a randomised controlled trial, comparing businesses that are undergoing the Adult MHFA Two Day training courses to companies not using the scheme. The study aims to shed light on employee experiences of providing and receiving mental health first aid while exploring the effectiveness of the training programme, its economic impact and wider impact on organisational culture.

Licensed MHFA training has an international reputation as a successful mental health literacy and skills programme for use in the workplace, schools, colleges and universities. Used in 26 countries globally, it has an extensive evidence-base for a public mental health programme, with over 70 evaluations and nearly two decades of research behind it. 

The focus of most research to date has been on looking at how the learning benefits trainees. This new study will provide a systematic analysis of the impact on those receiving support in the workplace, as well as investigating the wider impacts for businesses. Currently it’s estimated that mental ill health costs employers across the UK a total of £35 billion every year. There is increasing understanding that taking positive action on mental health in the workplace could help reduce some of the associated costs. 

Commenting on the launch of the research trial, Simon Blake OBE, Chief Executive of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, said: 

“The EMPOWER study is an important addition to the strong body of research that underpins MHFA England’s Adult Mental Health First Aid Two Day course. As a purpose driven social enterprise, we pride ourselves on being both evidence-based and learning-oriented in our approach. 

“I am delighted that the Centre for Mental Health and London South Bank University are collaborating to carry out this independent study and I very much look forward to seeing the results.

“The EMPOWER study will help us to understand the wider impacts of implementing Mental Health First Aid training in the workplace. It will also enhance our understanding of the impact that increased mental health awareness, knowledge and skills brings to the workplace- in particular with regard to encouraging help-seeking behaviour.”

Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive for the Centre for Mental Health said:

“We are delighted to be carrying out this important study to find out what happens after Mental Health First Aid training is delivered in the workplace. It’s a great opportunity to be able to offer free training to businesses that have never received mental health training before. Involving these businesses in the study will help us to find out what the health benefits for employees are, in practice.”

The research team is now inviting companies to apply take part in the study. All participating organisations will be offered free MHFA England training; some during the study and others afterwards. 

More information and details of how to get involved in the study.