As a certified Mental Health First Aid™️ instructor, I was delighted to see this critical analysis of MHFA posted by distinguished professor of Organizational Psychology, Rob Briner…

Should Mental Health First Aid Be Required?

One of my LinkedIn connections recently posted a poll asking whether employers should be required to have a certified MHFA person at the workplace. More than 1000 folks responded, and 70% said “Yes, it should be required.” Some commenters asserted that anyone answering “No” had never experienced mental health problems and/or didn’t care about them.

In addition to revealing naïveté about workplace regulation, the responses to this poll exemplified

  1. The limited understanding of MHFA possessed by people advocating it
  2. Employers’ and HR leaders’ eagerness to solve complex problems with simplistic, trendy solutions, while ignoring substantive evidence-based strategies.

MHFA Cons and Pros

In the US, employers would have good reason to proceed with caution when implementing MHFA in the workplace.

  • MHFA certification seems unnecessary — having more to do with protecting revenue and intellectual property rather than mental health
  • As for the virtual training, to quote the CEO of National Council of Mental Wellbeing (from his “Happy New Year” email to instructors): “To put it simply, the technology just didn’t work.” (I chose not to offer virtual training until the tech problems are addressed. But NCMW was undaunted, continuing to charge thousands of dollars for virtual training that the organization acknowledged “caused countless frustrations.”) 

MHFA’s greatest potential is to play a supporting role in a comprehensive solution — albeit, I’ll maintain, a role likely to prove valuable when implemented in the proper context and with realistic expectations.