NHS Business Services Authority has become one of the first to match the number of first aiders across its services with mental health first aiders, and has been supporting one of its corporate charities Samaritans this Brew Monday (Monday 20th January).

Brew Monday is Samaritans answer to fighting the effects of Blue Monday, which is notoriously the most depressing day of the year. The charity encourages people to reach out to those struggling with loneliness.

At any given time, 1 in 6 working-age adults have symptoms associated with mental ill-health and mental ill-health is responsible for 72 million working days lost and costs £34.9 billion each year.

NHSBSA is an early adopter of the Mental Health First Aider training programme as recommended by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The HSE recommends that if you work in a company with 5-50 workers, there should be at least one person trained in first aid. Another first aider should be in place for every 50 workers after that.

Michael Brodie, Chief Executive of NHSBSA said: “All organisations are legally required to have a certain number of first aiders. While there’s no such requirement for mental health first aiders; we feel it is crucial to offer this support because the health and wellbeing of our people really matters to us.

“We know that early intervention is a key component to helping people manage their emotional wellbeing when they’re struggling. This is why we’ve committed to making sure mental health is treated in exactly the same way as physical health and have trained over 60 people to provide this valuable service”.

The mental health first aiders at NHSBSA are a proactive network, not only a listening service. They act as mental health champions and run an annual calendar of campaigns and activities to raise awareness of mental health issues. Brew Monday is one of the campaigns that NHSBSA supports as part of its commitment to raise the profile of good mental health in the workplace.