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How to make mental health first aid a prized & honoured role

Updated: Jul 23, 2021

Did you watch the London 2012 Olympics? I don’t know about you, but I was blown away. As a nation we’d expected things to be a bit of an anti-climax but it turned out to be a world beating event. Not only did our athletes do us proud but the show itself was incredible.

I remember thinking how great it would have been to be Mo Farah standing on that podium receiving those medals and adulation. I’m sure it was a lifetime defining moment for many as they were recognised for their hard work, commitment and brilliance.

We all appreciate recognition

Whether we choose to admit it or not we all like to be recognised for our efforts. Recognition tells us what we’ve done has been noticed and appreciated. It can be one of the factors that keeps us motivated to keep going. Imagine there being no podium ceremony for Mo Farah or Usain Bolt in 2012? No icing on the cake of their efforts!

Bring the Olympics to your workplace

Just like Mo, or Sir Mo Farah as I think he’s now known your mental health first aiders do a great job and also need their moment of appreciation and recognition.

Make it special

Many of the organisations I work with host a rewards and recognition day for their mental health first aiders. A way of saying thank you, after all just because somebody doesn’t ask for recognition doesn’t mean they’re not hungry for some.

Party agenda

So, what sort of things can you involve in your rewards and recognition day? Well, the choice is yours. A good starting point is to ask your mental health first aiders what they’d like to see. Here are some of the ingredients I’ve seen at such events:

  • CEO/MD speech to thank all of the mental health first aiders

  • CEO/MD to give everybody a gift

  • Teambuilding activities

  • Chance to share stories

  • Prizes (eg: extra mile award for those who do the outreach projects)

  • Dinner and drinks

  • Novelty activity (comedian, karaoke)

Location location location

Oh, and I can’t state the importance enough of it not being at the office. Everybody loves a day out to take their mind away from the everyday grind, so choose a nice location where everybody can relax and have fun.

Your mental health first aid team has hopefully saved your organisation money in terms of reduced absenteeism, presenteeism and staff turnover, so perhaps some of that saving can fund a conference room at a hotel.

It won’t be forgotten

Remember, recognition makes us feel valued and appreciated, and will help keep your team motivated to carry on doing a brilliant job. This event will also strengthen them as a team as it’s a great opportunity for them to team build and bond.

So have a brainstorm with your mental health first aid team around ideas they’d like to see at your reward and recognition day and let the show begin…


Jonathan Pittam

Mental Health Educator


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