Mental health first aider provision at Turning Point

Mandie Doan, Strategic HR Business Partner at Turning Point, discusses the recent implementation of MHFA provision at the organisation.

Why did Turning Point decide to create the MHFA programme? Why now? 

Turning Point is a Health and Wellbeing Provider as well as a Mental Health Provider so we are very aware of the needs of people including our colleagues. The last two years has been very challenging for all and we thought now was the right time to introduce MHFA. As an organisation, our colleague base are far more aware than most about metal health, however we wanted to do more and believed that the MHFA structure would augment what we already have well. 

How was the number of MHFAs decided? (i.e. one aider for every 100 Turning Point colleague) 

We want to grow organically, to learn from the first cohort and amend/improve accordingly with the intention to increase numbers over the next two years. We started by re-recruiting those MHFA that had been trained in other organisations or through Local Authority support locally to help us shape our programme. We’ll continue to review what we think our optimum level will be based on our learning’s as well as understanding what best practice in other similar organisations appears to be. 

Who did Turning Point partner with for the MHFA training and why? 

We partnered with St John’s ambulance as we already had a strategic partnership through Rightsteps. 

What best practice did you lean on in implementation of this initiative? Who was the expert or advisor? 

Together with colleagues who had operated within external organisations and have taken on board their learnings from this. This included the MHFAs, HRDs, HR Service Delivery Manager, MHFA Lead. One of the organisations we spoke to was the Environment Agency, who had been on an embryonic journey when they had first launched five years ago, prior to their partnership with St Johns Ambulance and their subsequent re-launch. We also used materials that are widely available externally for guidance on setting up MHFA programme from the usual big MH providers. 

Governance around the programme looks very well thought out, why is it important to get this right at the outset?  

We are very clear that we must ensure that the MHFAs are set up for success for both themselves and also those colleagues reaching out to them for support. Some of the governance includes: 

  • To have the right executive sponsorship to provide leadership voice, positioning, context and value to create a ‘movement’
  • Terms of reference to give clarity of what the roles are and the boundaries 
  • Have supervision with appropriately qualified support – especially in our environment, boundaries, triggers etc are very real so this support is really important 
  • A mechanism how MHFAs can escalate alternative support for a colleague in need if appropriate 
  • Link with training for refresher every three years. 

The MHFA Governance Network will host regular meetings with all MHFAs who are involved in active support. The purpose of the meetings will be to: 

  • Review and evaluate progress of MHFA contacts, without compromising confidentiality 
  • Provide a forum where MHFAs can ask questions and provide feedback on practice – learning from each other and sharing experiences 
  • Ensure that continued MHFA is required 
  • Provide an opportunity for the MHFA Governance Network  to satisfy themselves that the MHFAs are: Adhering to the MHFA Terms of Reference; point of reflection on MHFA own H&WB to continue and to ensure they are taking appropriate action to maintain their own H&WB, as the role can be demanding and challenging; carrying out their MHFA role to a satisfactory standard; being provided with all appropriate support. 

Read the full blog post here.


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