There has been little research into the use and efficacy of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) across UK workplaces. This paper aims to investigate the implementation of MHFA across six UK organisations, identifying key barriers and facilitators.
Twenty-seven workplace representatives were recruited from six organisations through purposive sampling and took part in semi-structured interviews exploring their experiences of workplace MHFA. The data underwent thematic analysis, identifying key themes around implementation.
Implementation varied across organisations, including different reasons for initial interest in the programme, and variable ways that MHFA-trained employees operated post-training. Key barriers to successful implementation included negative attitudes around mental health, the perception that MHFA roles were onerous, and employees’ reluctance to engage in the MHFA programme. Successful implementation was perceived to be based on individual qualities of MHFA instructors and good practice demonstrated by trained individuals in the workplace. The role of the inner organisational setting and employee characteristics were further highlighted as barriers and facilitators to effective implementation.
MHFA is a complex intervention, presenting in different ways when implemented into complex workplace settings. As such, traditional evaluation methods may not be appropriate for gaining insights into its effectiveness. Future evaluations of workplace MHFA must consider the complexity of implementing and operationalising this intervention in the workplace.
This study is the first to highlight the factors affecting successful implementation of MHFA across a range of UK workplaces.
The authors would like to thank the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) for funding the study and all study participants whose time and contributions enabled insight into workplace MHFA. The authors would also like to thank the wider members of the MENTOR research team – Dr Jennifer Geraghty, Professor Patrick Callaghan – and members of the study expert panel. They are also grateful to MHFA England who supported study recruitment.
Narayanasamy, M.J., Thomson, L., Coole, C., Nouri, F. and Drummond, A. (2021), "Investigating the barriers and facilitators to implementing mental health first aid in the workplace: a qualitative study", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 164-178. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-12-2019-0064
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