Why have the Government made changes to L74 First Aid provision

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Why have the Government made changes to L74 First Aid provision.

Imagine a future where nobody knows the pain of loss. Imagine a workplace culture that not only acknowledges but actively supports Mental Health and nobody struggles in silence. A future where compassionate Mental Health First Aiders is a professional standard. The ideal of creating a sanctuary where vulnerability is not a weakness but a strength, and where asking for help is not an admission of defeat but a courageous step towards healing. By equipping a Mental Health First Aider, we are fostering resilience and unity, erasing stigma. We are not just checking a box or fulfilling an obligation; we are nurturing a culture of empathy, understanding, and support.

We are starting a new series of newsletters with a focus on Mental Health.

In our previous article, we expanded on L74- commonly known as the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) guidance and how it informs various First Aid provisions. Since then, recent changes from HSE expect employers to consider Mental Health factors when conducting risk assessments to determine First Aid provision.

In this week’s article, we think it would be beneficial to look at the timeline of events that have led to this significant change, potentially improving millions of employees’ lives and hopefully providing you with the knowledge that can assist you in determining the level and significance of Mental Health provision in your workplace.

Briefly on the History of Mental Health Act

Mental Health Act dates back to 1774 and was drafted to regulate “madhouses” or “insane asylums”. Many aspects have changed with the thanks to advances in scientific research.


How recent years have lead to changes in L74

In 2017, Theresa May initiated a review of the Mental Health Act 1983 to address concerns surrounding its utilisation. The overall aim of the reform was to bring the law in line with modern Mental Health care and ensure patients are involved more closely in decisions about their care and treatment. The findings lead to many small and big changes to the Mental Health Act.

Fast forward to 2023, MP Dean Russell re-introduces a bill on Mental Health First Aid:

“…to make mental health first-aid awareness part of first-aid training requirements in workplaces. If successful, staff would be trained to direct to the dedicated support available, just like they would with physical first aid, creating parity between mental and physical health. Just as thousands of lives are saved through CPR, imagine how many more could be changed if we simply knew the signs to look for and how to help. Given the return on investment in staff wellbeing is estimated to be £5 to every £1 spent, the proposal makes business sense too.”

In the House of Commons, his parliamentary speech only reached the initial reading stage, with Ten Minute Rule Bills rarely progressing to become law.

In the absence of legislative mandates, the decision-making process should be guided by the specific needs of your business, when it comes to Mental Health First Aid provision. As emphasized by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE):

“You should consider ways to manage mental ill health in your workplace which are appropriate for your business, 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.”

How is my business affected by this?

Once you’ve identified the First Aid requirements in the workplace, it’s worth considering additional training for designated First Aiders to equip them with the necessary skills to offer initial support and reassurance to employees undergoing acute Mental Health episodes. The Mental Health First Aid courses that you pick, should offer training in identifying warning signs of Mental Health issues and enable designated Mental First Aiders to develop the skills and confidence to approach and support individuals while ensuring their own safety.

It may seem that over the recent decade, there has been a large focus on shifting the stigma around Mental Health and spreading awareness. However, the statistics are not as positive as we’d like to see them. 70-75% of people with diagnosable mental illness receive no treatment at all. Mental ill Health is responsible for 72 million working days lost and costs £34.9 billion each year.

data from MHFA England


Last year, Office for National Statistics released a paper: Office for Statistics Regulation review into mental health statistics in England that indicated the gaps in evidence when it comes to nailing the statistics related to Mental Health. Research by University of Cambridge found that :

“Jobs that involve working face to face with the public, particularly where the employee has a degree of responsibility, and those that involve working irregular and long hours can all be emotionally demanding or even expose employees to violence and verbal aggression. This in turn could contribute to higher rates of mental health problems.”

There is still much work to be done in creating safer workplace environments, but this change is a good start. We have seen many campaigns that promote being active in supporting those around us. Campaigns such as NHS talking therapies, Norwich City Football Club, ITV’s Mental Health for Children, have gained wide recognition, however, the changes in HSE Mental Health First Aid are a first step in creating safer workplaces. The HSE evidenced research can be found here.

The benefits of the changes in First Aid provision could see:

  • Lower rates and risk of work-related ill mental health.

  • Increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

  • Reduce costs associated with absenteeism and presenteeism whilst increasing productivity

  • Establish a positive, open mental health culture within your workplace

Things to consider as an employer

What are common industry stress factors?

Does your staff feel seen and heard, and know where to turn for help?

What lies deeper? Are the staff subjected to bullying under the pretences that “it’s just a joke”? Is it an industry where it is common to hear crude and/or sexist comments? Do your staff leave work being able to leave work at work and not have their Mental Health impacted by day-to-day responsibilities?

Remember – Mental Health affects people differently. Just because you are not affected by a comment or a joke, doesn’t mean that everybody feels the same way!

The employee that you assign to be train to become a Mental Health First Aider in Workplace would benefit from:

  • Recognising the early signs and symptoms of common workplace Mental Health illnesses.

  • Developing the essential skills for supportive, non-judgemental conversation with those employees who need it.

  • Acquiring the expertise and confidence to guide employees to appropriate professional support.

  • Reducing the stigma of mental health by promoting awareness of the issue.

As HSE Regulations are a legal requirement, the failure to comply with these could subject a line of people responsible for enforcing the safety of employees to heavy fines and even prison in more severe cases.

As you reflect on these questions and considerations, it’s clear that fostering a mentally healthy workplace requires deliberate action. Your staff’s well-being is paramount, and it’s crucial to ensure they feel supported, respected, and equipped to handle any Mental Health challenges they may face.

Now is the time to take proactive steps towards creating a workplace where Mental Health is prioritised and stigma is eliminated. Consider investing in training an employee to become a Mental Health First Aider. By doing so, you’ll not only provide invaluable support to your team but also contribute to a culture of compassion, understanding, and resilience.

Together, let’s commit to promoting Mental Health awareness, breaking down barriers, and creating environments where every individual feels safe and valued. Take action today to make a difference in the lives of your employees and the overall well-being of your organisation.