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New research highlights just how important mental health first aiders are in the workplace  with businesses already making changes


  • More than half (56%) of UK businesses agree that mental health first aiders are as important as physical first aiders or fire marshals within the workplace
  • UK companies currently have some mental health policies including online counselling (42%) and mental health days off (17%) 
  • Yet just over a tenth (12%) of businesses admit employees have left the company citing mental health as the cause 


UK businesses are committing greater efforts and finances to the provision of mental health support in the workplace in response to Covid and “The Great Resignation”. A new survey of 1,000 key decision makers in business* revealed what companies are doing in order to combat the mental health crisis in the UK. Over one in five (21%) of business leaders state they are willing to re-evaluate their mental health policies, offering reassurance that steps are being taken in the right direction to help staff. 


In response to these findings, FutureLearn is providing support to these businesses and HR professionals who want to improve workplace mental health training, including its COVID-19: Psychological First Aid course, and encouraging employers to consider implementing further policies. 


Employees returning to the office will be faced with a ‘new normal,’ causing many to be apprehensive around how the lifted restrictions and adjusted workspaces might affect them. FutureLearn’s top rated short course has been designed to empower businesses with the skills to understand the importance of psychological first aid and to help implement changes to support both businesses and employees. 


Currently, there are no legal requirements for allocated psychological first aiders compared to the requirement for physical first aiders or fire marshalls – despite being a business essential. The trauma felt from the pandemic has seen businesses proactively improve their mental health support with an increase of 10% of businesses that now have support in place. This comes after 7 in 10 (68%) businesses admitted to not having mental health support for their staff pre-pandemic, with this number decreasing to 58% post-pandemic. With over a tenth (12%) of employees revealing they have left their job citing mental health as one of the main reasons for leaving, it is clear just how important mental health policies such as counseling, training and psychological first aiders are. 


Of the businesses who have made changes to their policies since the pandemic, over 2 in 5 (42%**) have already implemented online counseling for employees and 34%** have already invested in mental health first aiders. 


FutureLearn wants to encourage businesses and their employees to make full use of this free online learning course Psychological First Aid course, created and sponsored by the UK Health Security Agency (an executive agency of the UK Government Department of Health and Social Care). The course includes training on how to handle mental health challenges in the workplace, as well as specific steps on how to handle mental health as a result of COVID-19, it is suggested that the course takes approximately one hour each week for three weeks to complete but the course can be completed at a learner’s own pace meaning businesses could train people up in just three hours.


Yvonne Chien, Chief Growth Officer at FutureLearn says, “We commissioned this survey to reinforce the importance of mental wellbeing in the workplace. We’ve seen how the past 18 months have impacted mental health. This national shift has only strengthened our belief in the significance of businesses having access to the right support. Our own focus on mental health at FutureLearn is continuously developing as we learn more about our employee needs through our trained mental health champions, like Conrad Viviers. We hope that we will be joined by other businesses in showing that such policies are not just suggestions on paper but provide real solutions that are beneficial for all.”  


Conrad Viviers, Mental Health Champion at FutureLearn says, “I’m proud to be a part of a team to help change the conversation we are having about mental health in the workplace. Being a mental health first aider has given me the skills and insight to not only give 1 to 1 support for those in need, but also to confidently bring mental health as a talking point to meetings where people are at the core of the discussion. Through supporting people in the workplace with mental health challenges we’re impacting the evolution and elevation of society. The ripple effects of these actions lead to a safer environment for employees and help FutureLearn fulfil its duty of care towards employees. In some form or another most people need support. Even if it’s just to say “me too, it’s been tough.””


Notes to Editor

*1,000 key decision makers in business were surveyed by YouGov. The definition of decision maker is as follows: Owner/ Proprietor, Partner(s), Chairperson, Chief Executive, Managing Director, Non-Executive Director, Other board level manager/ director, Other senior manager or director below board level.

Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th – 25th October 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of British business size.

**When considering this statistic, we are referencing the 97/1,000 participants who had confirmed they had made changes to their mental health benefits since the pandemic.

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