I have just completed the MHFA England Mental Health First Aider training  and found the experience horrifying and sobering, but also vital, life-changing and full of hope.

What the course does particularly well is challenge head on the unacceptable levels of stigma and ignorance encountered by those suffering mental ill-health – MHFA England’s target is to train 1 in 10 of the working population. I can only think of positive changes to society that would result from such an achievement.

Below are some of the shocking facts and figures about mental health in the workplace, Try swapping the words ‘mental health’ for ‘diabetes’ or ‘heart disease’ and these stats become even more impactful.

  • The Chief Medical Officer estimates that around 70 million working days are lost every year because of mental ill health, costing Britain between £70bn and £100bn
  • In 2014/15 anxiety, depression and stress accounted for 35% of all work-related ill health, and 43% of all working days lost to ill health, according to the Health and Safety Executive.
  • One in five people take a day off due to stress, yet up to 90% feel unable to be honest about this being the reason for their absence.
  • Research from Time to Change found that 49% of respondents would feel uncomfortable talking to their employer about their mental health
  • In a survey of UK adults 56% said they wouldn’t hire someone with depression, even if they were the best candidate for the job, according to a report by Unum and the Mental Health Foundation.
  • Work is beneficial to physical and mental health: periods out of work can exacerbate a mental health condition because people feel isolated, forgotten and purposeless.
  • A mental health issue is not a sign of weakness; in fact it can be just the opposite. Determined, energetic, purposeful high achievers can be the most vulnerable, because they push themselves so hard. Winston Churchill, Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens and Ludwig van Beethoven all experienced mental health issues.

What can I do?

Take a look at the courses available at mhfaengland.org, get yourself informed,  trained up and then spread the word!