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Aon launches service to tackle ‘gaps’ in mental health first aid

Programme includes consultancy, data analysis and impact measurement

Employee benefits consultancy Aon has developed a range of client services for employers to fill the gaps identified in mental health first aid (MHFA) provision.

The services include strategic consultancy, data analysis and impact measurement, MHFA courses that support the mental health first aiders themselves, and communication support.

MHFA courses are commonplace in workplaces throughout the UK. They are delivered by providers to support the mental health and wellbeing of all employees, including the one in four people who will suffer with diagnosable mental health conditions each year.

However, research from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) highlights pitfalls for employers rolling out MHFA in isolation from a wider strategy, such as not taking care of the first aiders themselves and not measuring impact.

Aon’s approach includes a strategy and plan, including measurement and data analysis. It aims to ensure an employer understands MHFAs or other options, how to cost a campaign and how to create a business case for investment.

It offers three course options depending on employer needs, as well as guidance on how to establish mental health first aider roles and protecting their mental health. It can include a continued professional development course, launch communication, MHFA application forms for potential candidates and clear role descriptions that outline the boundaries of the role.

Charles Alberts, head of health management at Aon, said it is vital that candidates understand the issues they may encounter and that they are a good fit for the role and given precise training.

“Some of the issues they need to support are not easy to manage so there needs to be full understanding by participants and employers for safeguarding,” he added.

Aon claims its own MHFA programme delivered numerous benefits including increased employee engagement with mental health and a high proportion of interactions by over 100 colleagues who have been trained and activated as mental health first aiders. Aon concurrently rolled out a programme which saw hundreds of colleagues attend mindfulness workshops, resilience workshops and mental health awareness training for people leaders.