Mental health first-aid guidance issued by HSE

HSE has updated its online guidance on the provision of first aid at work to include brief advice on how to decide whether it is “beneficial” to provide trained personnel to identify and support workers who might be experiencing a mental health issue.

The new guidance states that, following an assessment of an organisation’s overall first-aid needs, an employer “might decide that it will be beneficial to have personnel trained to identify and understand symptoms, and able to support someone who might be experiencing a mental health issue”.

It adds that employers should “consider ways to manage mental ill health in your workplace which are appropriate for your business, such as providing information or training for managers and employees, employing occupational health professionals, appointing mental health trained first aiders and implementing employee support programmes”.

The guidance further states that there is a “wide range of training providers offering mental health awareness or first-aid training and details of available training that best meets the needs of your organisation can be found by conducting a simple internet search”.

The guidance is contained in HSE’s online advice page for employers on how to carry out a first-aid needs assessment for their workplace. Under the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, employers are required to “provide adequate and appropriate first-aid equipment, facilities and people so … employees can be given immediate help if they are injured or made ill at work”.

HSE says that when deciding on the appropriate level and type of first-aid equipment, facilities and personnel required, employers should consider the circumstances of their workplace, workforce, and health and safety risks.

However, clarifying what the recent guidance change means for employers, an HSE spokesperson said: “HSE has enhanced its first-aid guidance to help employers understand the existing need to consider mental health alongside physical health when undertaking their ‘needs assessment’.”

“There has, however, been no legal change to make mental health first-aid type training mandatory.”

The guidance is available at