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Why does your organisation need a Mental Health First Aider?

Why does your organisation need a Mental Health First Aider?

What is Mental Health First Aid?

1 in 4 people in UK experience mental illness each year. The Office for National Statistics report that 15.8 million UK work days were lost due to mental illness in 2016, and this number is thought to have increased drastically since the Covid-19 Pandemic. In fact, mental health charity Mind have found that ‘poor mental health is now the number 1 reason we miss work’.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), “workplaces should consider appropriate ways to manage mental ill health such as providing information or training for managers and employees, employing occupational health professionals, appointing mental health trained first aiders, and implementing employee support programmes”.

Mental health first aid is the help you give to an individual who may be developing a mental health problem or experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or condition. This first aid can be given until the person has been given access to, or received the appropriate professional treatment or support.

Mental Health First Aider

What is the Purpose of a Workplace Mental Health First Aider?

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require you to ‘provide adequate and appropriate first-aid equipment, facilities and people so your employees can be given immediate help if they are injured or taken ill at work’ and most workplaces will have one or more First Aiders (depending on the amount of employees they have and other risk factors).  However, there is currently no legal requirement for an organisation to have a Mental Health First Aider – although many organisations are starting to realise the importance of supporting mental health alongside supporting physical health.

Mental Health First Aiders usually undertake the role alongside their current role in the workplace. They can be members of staff, managers, or HR representatives and they are the first point of contact for any employees or staff members who may be struggling with their mental health. This could include (but is not limited to) those experiencing stress, bereavement, anxiety or depression. Often an employee might approach a Mental Health First Aider because they’re having a tough time and just need someone to talk to. Through undertaking training, a Mental Health First Aider is taught how to listen without judgement and to be able to identify the warning signs of mental ill health. Their training will also ensure that they are able to support mental health emergency situations – although they are not a replacement or substitute for a trained therapist or counsellor.

A Mental Health First Aider can direct employees in the direction of appropriate support options such as their GP, the Samaritans, or other mental health charities or therapists either via the NHs or privately. Some workplaces offer Employee Assistance Programmes which provide a limited number of free therapy sessions and a Mental Health First Aider can help support an employee to arrange this.

Mental Health First Aiders are:

  • Able to act in a confidential manner
  • Someone who can remain calm under pressure
  • Individuals who want to learn more about mental health and support others
  • Good communicators who can open and support mental health conversations
  • Able to self-care and protect their own mental health whilst caring for the mental health of others

Mental Health First Aid Training in the Workplace

Many organisations now provide Mental Health Awareness Training to their employees either as a part of their induction, or during their ongoing employment training. This can help employees understand the different factors that can affect mental health and let them obtain the knowledge and support they need for dealing with mental health issues should they arise.

Some organisations also provide First Aid Training courses that also cover mental health and teach people how to recognise and deal with warning signs of mental ill health as well as physical health.

Mental Health First Aid Training takes that next step by specifically teaching individuals how to notice and support others who may be experiencing mental health issues, and helps them to develop the skills and confidence to approach and support someone without putting themselves at risk. Mental Health First Aiders are also often taught to deal with more serious mental health emergencies such as a mental health breakdown or attempted suicide. Many organisations now appoint a staff member to undertake this role in the same way in which they may have a First Aider to deal with injury and illness.

The aims of Mental Health First Aid Training are:

  • To develop a greater understanding of workplace mental health and be able to work towards reducing stigma
  • To help you understand the roles and responsibilities of employers and employees in achieving better mental health in the workplace
  • To highlight the issue of stress in the workplace
  • To give you an increased confidence around mental health issues
  • To demonstrate the importance of early intervention
  • To help you be able to develop and understand a wellness strategy in the workplace

If you’d like to find out more about Mental Health First Aid Training or the other training courses available to support employee mental health then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. RealSense work in collaboration with industry experts to ensure our training is accredited, relevant, engaging and informative. We can also provide bespoke training tailored exactly for the needs of you and your workforce alongside our off-the-shelf course library of over 120 training courses.

What can I do to help tackle Modern Slavery in the UK workplace?

What can I do to help tackle Modern Slavery in the UK workplace?

At the end of this month, July 30th 2022 marks the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons and reminds us that many forms of Modern Slavery are still a problem across the world today. All organisations have a duty to play their part in raising awareness and working together to eradicate the existence of both slavery and trafficking. According to the United Nations, in 2018 about 50,000 human trafficking victims were detected and reported by 148 countries.

Modern Slavery can take many forms including the trafficking of people, forced labour, servitude or slavery. According to Gov.UK : ‘Any consent victims have given to their treatment will be irrelevant where they have been coerced, deceived or provided with payment or benefit to achieve that consent’. But Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking are not just an international problem. The impacts of these crimes are still seen and felt every day in the United Kingdom.

A new BBC Documentary, The Real Mo Farah has this week revealed that Sir Mo Farah was brought to the UK as a child, given a false name, and forced to work as a domestic servant. According to the BBC, Sir Mo said he had to do housework and child care in exchange for food and had his relative’s contact details taken from him and destroyed. While his case has caused outrage in the media, sadly his story is still all too common.

Statistics about Modern Slavery in the UK

In 2020, the Office of National Statistics published a report setting out the challenges of producing an accurate measure of how prevalent Modern Slavery is in the UK because of its’ hidden nature. They provided statistics taken from the National Referral Mechanism which showed that:

  • In 2020, more than 10,00 potential victims of Modern Slavery were referred to the National Referral Mechanism
  • 63% of victims claimed their exploitation had happened in the UK and 26% said that it had happened overseas
  • Male victims increased from 68% in 2019 to 74% in 2020

Modern Slavery can take many different forms, but increasingly cases of human trafficking, labour exploitation and debt bondage are appearing in the UK workplace. Modern slavery can exist anywhere – in larger organisations where goods are imported and exported and also in our communities, local businesses and households. Complex supply chains can often allow forced labour to thrive, and companies with a significant UK market presence often indirectly rely on people working in slavery to produce the goods they sell, or may have supply chains that can encourage trafficking.

Numerous companies subcontract their services or have supply chains managed by external staff which often unintentionally masks or hides a company’s involvement in trafficking or slavery. According to, “Human Trafficking exists because vulnerable people are often willing to take big risks in order to provide for their families”. Traffickers exploit and manipulate human emotions for their own gain, often promising victims they can make their dreams come true or change their lives – frequently offering jobs, accommodation, and wages which never materialise. Victims may find that they have to give up their passport, pay a trafficking debt or pay ‘commission’ to their traffickers.

They can be left trapped in a different country with no possessions and no means to return. Victims then become reliant upon their traffickers and may face threats and violence if they refuse to work. And so the cycle continues. On a local basis or in small-scale industries, many of us may struggle to believe that Human Trafficking could be happening in our local area or in companies in our community. Sadly, this is the case. People can be exploited in the farming industry, in construction, beauty and hospitality, and even when working in other people’s homes. In fact, any role that involves people being trafficked to work for very low pay, or even none at all, is modern-day slavery in action.

Using and Abusing Technology in Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

This year, the theme for World Trafficking day focuses on the role of technology as a tool that can both enable and impede human trafficking. The United Nations explain that: ‘With the global expansion in the use of technology – intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift of our everyday life to online platforms – the crime of human trafficking has conquered cyber space. The internet and digital platforms offer traffickers numerous tools to recruit, exploit, and control victims; organize their transport and accommodation; advertise victims and reach out to potential clients; communicate among perpetrators; and hide criminal proceeds – and all that with greater speed, cost-effectiveness and anonymity’. However, technology can also be used to impede and prevent human trafficking and modern slavery.

The internet gives organisations a platform to pool and share resources and gather digital evidence against the crimes being committed. Online resources can also be used to prevent modern slavery by training and educating workforces through e-learning as well as awareness-raising activities on the safe use of the internet and social media. Raising awareness and providing education gives people the tools to be alert to the dangers of modern slavery, as well as helping to prevent them falling victim to it themselves.

Training and Educating your Workforce to help prevent Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

The Modern Slavery Act (2015) law sets out the UK Government’s legal requirements for how organisations must address and report on modern slavery. This law applies to any company doing business in the UK with an annual turnover of £36 million or more and states they must produce annual statements about how they are tackling Modern Slavery. However, all organisations, regardless of size, have a responsibility to ensure their staff are aware that the problem exists and to know what they can do to help eradicate it and provide support for victims.

Many companies now request evidence of an ethical supply chain as a part of their working policies to ensure that all individuals remain free from Modern Slavery and are treated fairly and justly, and their Human Rights are supported. By recognising and talking about this issue, employers also help to raise awareness amongst their employees.

Implementing staff training such as that provided in our Modern Slavery Awareness Training Course is essential to help teach all staff about the issue of trafficking and the problem of modern slavery in workforces across the UK through educating and informing. By providing relevant, reputable information, you can ensure that your staff have all the knowledge they need to keep your workplace operating ethically and fairly.

What signs of Modern Slavery or Trafficking might I notice in the Workplace?

There are a number of general indicators of modern slavery and trafficking that everybody should know about. These include (but are not limited to):

Legal Documents

Is the person in possession of their own documents? (Passport, bank details etc). Victims often have to give possession of these to someone else or may have to use false or forged ID documents.

Living Arrangements

Does the person know where they live? Victims may not know their home or work address, they may live in poor, sub-standard or unsuitable accommodation and have no choice about where they live or who they live with. Victims of trafficking may also live in excessively large groups in the same place

Working Conditions

Do they have a contract? Can they choose how or where they work? A person may not be given time off work or could be forced to work long hours over long periods. Victims of trafficking or modern slavery may also be reluctant to share any personal information with their colleagues.

Medical Care

Does the person have untreated injuries? Are they reluctant to seek help or see a health care professional? A person might be vague about how their injuries occured or dismiss your concerns.

Physical Appearance

Does the person appear malnourished or withdrawn? A person might wear the same clothes every day, not be dressed adequately for work, or be without protective or warm clothing. They could also have unexplained injuries.


Does the person seem to be in debt to someone else or dependent on someone else for money? Victims may receive little or no payment for their work, have no access to their own money or be controlled or punished financially. Behaviour Is the person withdrawn or frightened? Can they answer questions and speak for themselves? A person may appear under the influence or control of others or be unable to provide basic facts. If you suspect that someone is in slavery, do not confront them or try to fix it yourself as this could lead to increased harm for them. Instead, inform relevant authorities or organisations such as the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or if necessary call the Police.

If you would like more information about how we can support your staff training and help raise your employees’ awareness of Modern Slavery, take a look at our Modern Slavery Awareness Online Training which forms part of our Corporate Governance suite of courses. As well as offering our e-learning Modern Slavery course, we can work with your organisation to design and develop bespoke learning solutions, tailor-made to suit your business needs, and reflect your organisation’s ethos and policies on Modern Slavery.

Why does my organisation need LGBTQ+ Awareness Training?

Why does my organisation need LGBTQ+ Awareness Training?

2022 is a pivotal year for the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community as it celebrates the 50 year anniversary of when the first UK Gay Pride marches took place.

The month of June is especially noteworthy and has become known as ‘Pride Month’ – recognising the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. These important protests changed gay rights for many people in America and around the world.

Significant change has taken place for the LGBTQ+ community over the last 50 years, both politically and socially, with legislation constantly being updated and social reform bringing rapid changes.

Despite this, whilst progress is being made towards a more inclusive society, some LGBTQ+ people still face discrimination, exclusion and barriers to work, and it’s clear that more training around LGBTQ+ Awareness is needed.

LGBTQ+ Workplace statistics – Inequality for workers

Key findings from the Stonewall LGBT in Britain Work Report (2018) found that in the 12 months prior:

  • Almost 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ staff have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues because of their sexual orientation
  • 1 in 8 transgender people have been physically attacked by customers or colleagues because of being transgender
  • Nearly 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ people said they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity while trying to get a job
  • More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ workers have hidden or disguised their sexuality because they were afraid of discrimination.

The Equality Act (2010) legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. This means that everyone, of any sexual orientation is protected from discrimination. Despite this, 1 in 8 lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and 1 in 5 transgender people say they wouldn’t feel comfortable reporting homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying to their employer.

So, as an employer what can you do to help make and support change and ensure workforce inclusivity?

Creating and promoting LGBTQ+ inclusivity at work

Realsense blog - LGBTQ+ Awareness in the workplace

1. Understand the Law and LGBTQ+ rights

The first step you can take towards promoting inclusivity in the workplace is to understand the law and legislation around LGBTQ+ rights. Educating yourself and learning from LGBTQ+ news will enable you to share knowledge and experience with your colleagues and help you to lead by example.

The Equality Act (2010) states that “nobody can be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation”. Employers are legally obligated to protect all their staff, avoid discrimination, and provide a working environment that is safe and free from discrimination.

Knowing and understanding the law is not enough, employers need to help create a working environment that is free from prejudice whilst demonstrating respect and inclusivity towards LGBTQ+ Staff.

2. Changing staff perceptions and behaviours  

Be aware of the assumptions you make about people and be mindful of the way people may feel about topics of conversation or ‘throw away’ comments. Staff who feel valued and accepted are often happier and more productive in the working environment. Take some time to learn about LGBTQ+ issues and gender identity, and show your support for awareness days and the local LGBTQ+ Community.

Use inclusive language in all communications: ‘partner’, ‘parent’ and ‘child’ are a good starting point, and rather than ‘ladies’ and ‘gentlemen’ use ‘colleagues’.

3. Educate staff about LGBTQ+, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

LGBTQ History month and Pride month are great opportunities to focus on inclusivity and the wellbeing of all your team. Ensure your business culture promotes equality and diversity and that all staff understand the behaviour that is classed as discrimination. The LQBTQ+ community can still face stereotyping and have assumptions made about them, so make sure LGBTQ+ is recognised as an important part of your organisation’s values.

4. LGBTQ+ inclusion in Policies and Procedures

An organisation’s policies and procedures should be relevant and easily accessible, and staff should be confident in implementing them. Ensure your policies explain how you as an employer support the LGBTQ+ staff in your organisation and take discrimination seriously.

Make sure that a clear Anti-Harassment and Bullying Policy is in place and made available to all staff, and that your policies on parental leave, benefits and so on are all written inclusively.

5. Offer LGBTQ+ Training

Organisations that offer LGBTQ+ Training in the workplace alongside other Equality and Diversity training immediately demonstrate their commitment to inclusion. Making sure that all your staff have access to the relevant information needed to create a fully inclusive workplace helps you create an environment that is free from prejudice.

If training is recorded through a learning management system, employers can keep track of their employees’ progress and quickly identify additional training needs.

Teaching your staff how to reduce stigmatism within the workplace and making sure your staff are comfortable in their working environment has a number of benefits for your business as well as for your workforce:

The benefits of an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace environment

  • Higher job satisfaction and high productivity
  • Improving the quality of personnel through better recruitment and retention
  • Higher employee morale and lower staff turnover
  • Decreased vulnerability to legal challenges
  • Increased organisational flexibility and the ability to learn from people at all levels
  • Greater participation and broader perspectives increase creativity and innovation

Other business-related reasons to become more inclusive include the potential to improve the customer service experience, and reach out to new clients and audiences.

LGBTQ+ Awareness Online Training

Realsense blog - LGBTQ+ Awareness online training course example

Our LGBTQ+ Awareness Training course was developed to help provide employees and employers working in the UK the tools and skills to create a fully inclusive workplace.

The course aims to give learners an understanding of the LGBTQ+ community in the UK and to help inform all staff about the need for an inclusive environment in the workplace.  Course users will learn about the effects and impacts of prejudice and discrimination and understand The Equality Act and LGBTQ+ history, rights and the law. They’ll be taught about the effects and impacts of discrimination and shown what they should do to ensure workplace inclusivity.

Our comprehensive LGBTQ+ Awareness online training course covers:
• Gender and Sexual Orientation Terminology
• Law and Legislation, Harassment and Victimisation
• Prejudice and Discrimination
• Benefits of an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Environment
• Assessment – employees taking this training course will complete an assessment to ensure that they understand the course content and to demonstrate their increased awareness of issues.

If you’d like to know about LGBTQ+ Awareness online training or any of of our other HR and employment courses then get in touch with us. A number of organisations have also requested bespoke LGBTQ+ e-learning and we’ll be more than happy to help you if this would be more suitable for your organisation.