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Exploring the role of mental health first aid officers in workplaces: A qualitative study using case study methodology

Nataly Bovopoulos (Centre for Mental Health, University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Melbourne, Australia) (Mental Health First Aid Australia, Parkville, Australia)
Anthony D. LaMontagne (Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)
Angela Martin (Department of Management, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)
Anthony Jorm (Centre for Mental Health, University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Melbourne, Australia)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 11 October 2018

Issue publication date: 13 November 2018

829

Abstract

Purpose

An emerging trend in Australian workplaces is to appoint staff trained in mental health first aid as mental health first aid officers (MHFAOs), similar to physical first aid officers (PFAOs) focused on physical health emergencies. The purpose of this paper is to better understand the nature of MHFAO roles in workplaces and develop recommendations for other workplaces.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study methodology was used, with semi-structured qualitative interviews conducted with multiple individuals within five diverse organisations.

Findings

The results indicated that organisations tended to differ in their approach to implementation, based on their level of experience. There was a strong agreement across organisations on the benefits and challenges they have experienced with the role.

Practical implications

Organisational representatives highlighted some important differences between PFAO and MHFAO roles. Respondents across all organisations agreed that MHFA training should ideally be offered to all staff if feasible, not only MHFAOs. The greatest challenge experienced by respondents was inadequate support to, and internal resourcing for, MHFAO roles. Respondents suggested that workplaces provide more support and training to MHFAOs.

Originality/value

This is the first study to explore and describe the experiences of workplaces with MHFAOs. Recommendations are made to assist interested organisations in these efforts.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Professor Anthony Jorm is the Co-creator of the Mental Health First Aid programme and the Chair of the Board of Mental Health First Aid Australia. Nataly Bovopoulos is the current CEO of Mental Health First Aid Australia. While it is possible that the results of this research will be of interest and benefit to the Mental Health First Aid programme, the study is intended to benefit both the research and wider community.

Citation

Bovopoulos, N., LaMontagne, A.D., Martin, A. and Jorm, A. (2018), "Exploring the role of mental health first aid officers in workplaces: A qualitative study using case study methodology", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 11 No. 6, pp. 366-381. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWHM-06-2018-0082

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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