How Mental Health First Aid training helped a Bristol-based business

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training is gaining momentum, but does it really make a difference? Yes, according to Simon Newing, MD of Bristol-based digital agency Focus.

‘Mental health is on everyone’s lips right know but I don’t know of many agencies like ours who are really taking it seriously,’ says Simon. ‘We want to create a supportive, productive working environment so we took action.’

Focus decided to offer a half-day MHFA workshop to all its employees. Debbie Kleiner, Head of Workplace Happiness at PES and an accredited MHFA England trainer, ran the session on-site. The three-hour workshop raised awareness of what mental health is, and how to challenge stigma.

‘We’re a small business and a tight-knit group of employees,’ continues Simon. ‘Life is unpredictable and you never know what’s around the corner. If anything were to ever distress one person, it would affect everyone. We wanted to make sure the whole team understands the importance of mental health, so they could support themselves and each other.’

What did employees say?

  • ‘I found the course interesting and was pleased how many of our team contributed. The group activities worked well and were long enough to be beneficial but short enough to keep interest. I for one have made a concerted effort to mention mental health more in day to day office life, and I have noticed some members of our team are sharing a little more than they used to. If we notice someone is behaving differently than usual, we do consider that more and think about why that might be the case.’
  • ‘Debbie delivered the course really well, lots of interactivity.’
  • ‘An interesting, stimulating and of-the-moment course, delivered in a professional and sensitive manner. It’s contributed towards making mental health a topic that’s “acceptable” to talk about at work.’

What changed as a result of MHFA training?

The workshop highlighted just how important it is to be able to talk freely about mental health. It also showed Focus employees that support is essential. With that in mind, the company asked PES to source an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), giving everyone access to counselling and a range of other benefits.

Debbie Kleiner says, ‘I’m so glad Focus have ongoing support in place through an EAP. This is such a valuable employee benefit. It shows that mental health, employee benefits and workplace wellbeing go hand-in-hand.’

About Focus

Trading since 1996, Focus are one of Bristol’s longest established digital agencies, creating bespoke websites and apps for local authorities, charities and commercial organisations. Their work has won recognition at national government level.

About our MHFA courses

Led by our very own qualified MHFA instructor and Head of Workplace Happiness, Debbie Kleiner, our two-day MHFA course will:

  • give a deeper understanding of the issues that impact on and relate to people’s mental health
  • teach practical skills that can be used every day, including being able to spot the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and feel confident guiding people towards appropriate support.

How do I book?

To book a place on an open course or to arrange an on site course for your organisation, please email sarah.horley@wearepes.co.uk or call Sarah on 01454 808658.

What is Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)?

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised training course designed to teach people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health, and provide help on a first aid basis.