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BITC UK (BT) - Mental Health First Aid Training

Added on 22-03-2013







Business challenge

BT recognizes that one in four people will develop a common mental health problem at some point in their lives. Within BT, approximately 18% of sickness-caused absence is due to mental health problems, totaling 200,000 days of lost time. Many people lack knowledge and understanding of the common mental health problems and feel unsure about how best to deal with them in the first instance.


The company responded to this challenge through the BT People and Wellbeing strategies, BT aims to create a healthy and diverse environment where excellence prospers. Although the aim of BT's Mental Health Framework is to focus effort on actively promoting good mental health and preventing any adverse effects of work on mental health, the company recognizes that there will always be a requirement to provide active intervention once a mental health issue has been identified.

As part of their ‘stepped care' approach to intervention, BT has piloted a Mental Health First Aid Training course for line managers and HR professionals that seeks to introduce the concept of Mental Health First Aid, describe the common Mental Health problems (Anxiety, Depression, Suicide, etc.), They provide best practice advice on the management of common Mental Health problems by the lay person, and give guidance on more formal management through additional resources and support services. A randomized controlled trial was carried out in 2002 with employees of two Australian government departments who did a similar course during their time at work. This trial involved 301 participants who were randomized to either participate immediately in a course or to be wait-listed for 5 months before undertaking the training.

The trained group improved more than the wait-list control group in terms of greater confidence in providing help to others, greater likelihood of advising people to seek professional help, improved concordance with health professionals about treatments, decrease in stigmatizing attitudes, and improved mental health in the participants themselves. BT is now in the process of rolling this training out across the organization.


• Addressing myths and stigma, Engaging people and the business, freeing up key staff to attend training.

Challenges/Lessons learned:

• Reduced absenteeism related to deteriorating mental ill health.

• Supporting Line Managers and HR professionals.

• Increased employee engagement.

• Positioning the organization in terms of positive effects on image and brand.

• Enhanced CSR credentials.

• Applying Governmental strategy.

• Better informal and local support.

• Earlier access to most appropriate resources.

• Retaining jobs.

More information

Tips: Obtain high-level visible engagement and target-prioritized groups

Departments Involved: Health & Safety, External Training provider, Learning and development, All Lines of Business

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