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Good Practice Guide

Employee mental health training

All employees should receive mental health training to increase their understanding of mental health and develop skills to assist colleagues experiencing mental health issues.

Research has found significant improvements in the recognition of mental health conditions and assistance from employees who receive mental health training compared to their colleagues who did not receive training. Therefore, empowering leaders and employees with knowledge about mental health can support early detection and facilitate help seeking.

The following programs contain the key requirements for effective mental health training programs, including:

  • recognising signs and symptoms of common mental health conditions; and
  • strategies to support colleagues with mental health issues.

As the financial expense and time requirement of most face-to-face training programs may be prohibitive for some organisations to train all their employees, the following programs are provided in various formats to accommodate the different requirements of organisations.

Mental Health First Aid Australia

The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program provides participants with knowledge of mental illness and offers advice for approaching and helping individuals who are displaying symptoms of mental illness. This programs also aims to decrease the stigma around mental illness which often prevent individuals from seeking help early on. Academic research has found MHFA training can improve knowledge of mental health conditions and an understanding of what are appropriate initial response strategies as well as increase confidence in helping someone with mental health issues.

Further reading

Mental Health First Aid Australia (MHFAA) provide an evidence-based, anti-stigma, mental health training program for workplaces. This can be taken online as an e-learning course through MHFAA directly, or through an accredited instructor face to face.

The Mental Health First Aid Australia Skilled Workplaces Initiative: championing mental health

The Mental Health First Aid Australia ‘Skilled Workplaces’ program recognises organisations who commit to creating a mentally healthy workplace. The program rewards organisations who roll out and embed MHFA training – by showing commitment to embedding the program into their organisation’s culture; through actions like senior leadership support, relevant policies, supporting Mental Health First Aid Officers and continuous improvement.

Once particular goals have been met, organisations can be accredited as a gold, silver or bronze Mental Health First Aid Australia organisation and use a digital badge to gain recognition.

Further reading

Mental Health First Aid Australia’s Skilled Workplaces program is an accreditation process for mentally healthy workplaces, which can provide external recognition for efforts made in this area.

Black Dog Institute – workplace mental health and well-being programs

The Black Dog Insitute runs a variety of facilitated, evidence-based programs on topics in workplace mental health. Black Dog Institute customises their mental health and well-being programs based on an organisation’s specific needs and budget.

Currently, these programs span:

  • Organisational change and mental health.
  • Growing a resilient organisation.
  • Managing a team for well-being.
  • Building resilience to workplace stress.
  • Understanding and managing  your mental health
  • Mental health is everybody’s business.

Further reading

The Black Dog Institute runs paid, face to face half day workshops on workplace mental health.

Further reading

The Black Dog Institute also runs a foundational program that lays the groundwork for building mental health literacy, reducing stigma, and promoting help seeking in the workplace.

Mindful Employer

Mindful Employer is a national workplace mental health training provider, delivering evidence-based information in an experiential learning style. Mindful Employer is endorsed by SANE Australia and customises workshops for organisations to build a culture of valuing and protecting the mental health and well-being of their teams.

The workshops vary in timeframe and target audience, but all provide participants with mental knowledge and available support services.

Further reading

Mindful Employer workshops includes training for various audiences and in multiple delivery modes.

Heads Up

Heads up is an initiative by Beyond Blue, supported by the National Mental Health alliance. Their aim is to provide tools that help create mentally healthy workplaces. The Heads Up website provides a wide range of resources, information and advice for individuals and organisations – all of which are designed to offer simple, practical and, importantly, achievable guidance.

Useful guidance in the employee education space includes:

  • the employee page contains information regarding mental health conditions, self-care, how to help a colleague, and deciding whether to tell work about your mental health;
  • free online training programs designed to increase understanding of mental health conditions; and
  • case studies about workers who have experienced mental health issues.

Further reading

The Heads Up website contains a variety of useful training and resources for employees.