Mental Health First Aid training
Our MHFA work has been instrumental in shaping the ongoing development of MHFA. In addition to the standard MHFA course, MHFA have developed courses for adults helping youth (Youth MHFA), adolescents helping their peers (Teen MHFA), adults helping older people (Older Person MHFA), and adults helping Indigenous people (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people MHFA). They have also developed versions of MHFA training for Chinese-speaking and Vietnamese-speaking Australians. The MHFA program has spread across Australia and to 25 other countries. It has trained over 750,000 people in MHFA in Australia (3% of the population) and 2.6 million globally. Our randomised controlled trials have shown that MHFA training reduces stigma and increases knowledge of how to help and helping behaviour. Evidence of real-world impact comes from a national computer assisted telephone interview (CATI) survey of 3,000 Australian adults that we conducted for Beyond Blue. This survey asked about respondents’ intentions and actions with respect to helping someone in a suicidal crisis. It found that members of the public who had done MHFA training provided help of the same quality as people with professional training.
What workplaces can do to improve mental health
As noted above, our research into what workplaces can do to improve mental health involved the creation of expert consensus guidelines to improve employee mental health which are now hosted on a website along with additional resources. This has had significant social impact on end-users, improving health and wellbeing through information provision and access to resources. The website has had over 250,000 views by 80,000 unique users, with 43% from the US, 27% from Australia and 24% from the UK, highlighting international interest despite the guidelines targeting Australia. SuperFriend, one of the funders, has disseminated 5,000 copies of the positive mental health guidelines and their webpage has had 10,000 unique visitors since January 2016. The guidelines and associated web resources have been incorporated into the policies and procedures of many organisations. They are part of WorkSafe Victoria’s WorkWell toolkit and Beyond Blue’s workplace resources. They inform the policies and procedures of WorkSafe Tasmania, Public Health Association of Australia, BUPA, Deakin University, SuperFriend, Shine Lawyers, The West Australian, Western Australia’s Department of Mines and the Australian Institute of Criminology.
‘What Works for Depression’ and ‘What Works for Anxiety’
Beyond Blue considers the consumer guides we created and updated through this project to be among its ‘flagship’ products. These guides have been widely disseminated, with over 1 million copies being distributed by as early as 2014. The guides are not only disseminated to the public but are also the main source of information about interventions that Beyond Blue uses for all of its work. The guides have led Beyond Blue to promote a wider range of interventions than just medical and psychological treatments, including to professionals. These guides are highly likely to have had a strong impact on improving public knowledge. Previous research has shown that providing consumer guides on treatments for depression to people in the community can change their beliefs about which treatments are effective.