Employers must act now to help workers with mental health problems

With one in four people having issues with their mental health during their lifetime, Jim Dorman, the Operations and Policy Director of St Andrew’s First Aid calls for employers to ensure staff and management have the skills in place to support any colleague who has a mental health condition.

Mental health is currently a hot media topic and the Scottish Government launched their ten-year Mental Health Strategy eighteen months ago.  Encouragingly thirteen of the forty actions listed in the strategy have already been achieved.  Although the framework for support is progressing, Jim Dorman wonders if employers are fully aware of how they can support their own workers and is calling for them to provide First Aiders for Mental Health as well as First Aiders for physical emergencies in their workplace.

As well as calling for employers to consider managers and staff to support mental health, he is also calling for line managers to consider mental health being a reason behind performance and absence issues.  He suggests having a sensitive conversation to help detect any underlying concerns the staff member may have before heading down a traditional disciplinary route.

Research from See Me states that 48% of workers are reluctant to disclose mental health problems to their employers through fear of losing their jobs.  The stigma behind mental health has to be addressed and changed to allow employees to be confident that their line manager will understand and support them through a crisis.  These skills, Jim claims, can be offered to managers and staff by attending first aid courses in mental health.

St Andrew’s First Aid provide the three First Aid for Mental Health courses which employers can book their staff onto:


  • Leading First Aid for Mental Health ( SCQF Level 6)
    • 2-day course for those who are looking to become a certified First Aider for Mental Health within their organisation.  Candidates will be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health illnesses, and effectively guide a colleague towards the right support.
  • First Aid for Mental Health (SCQF Level 5)
    • 1-day course for those who are looking to gain an awareness of mental illness.  Enables candidates to understand some common mental health illnesses, and to support their own mental health and wellbeing of colleagues by creating Mental Health First Aid champions within the workplace.
  • Awareness of First Aid for Mental Health (SCQF Level 4)
    • ½-day course provides candidates with a basic foundation of mental health conditions, learning about their own mental health, and how to start a conversation with others.

You can also find out more about our First Aid for Mental Health courses by downloading our course guide.

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