Mental Health First Aid Officers in the Wild: A Qualitative Study of Role Formalisation, Motivation and Support Systems

Joseph A. Carpini, Jason Booth, Sehaj Johal, Brendan Odesnik, Sarah Soon, Emma Boyne, Rhonda Clifford, Deena Ashoorian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Mental Health First Aid Officers (MHFAO) have been integrated into workplaces to assist with rising concerns about employee mental health. However, there is a dearth of research on the experiences of MHFAO. This research explores three research questions. First, how are MHFAO roles defined and structured? Second, what motivates MHFAO to become and remain in their roles? Third, what support systems exist and what desired support systems are lacking? Method: Twenty-four MHFAO from different organisations in Australia participated in semi-structured interviews. Data were thematically analysed. Results: Firstly, MHFAO described three ways in which their roles were formalised: informal, semi-formal and fully formalised. Secondly, motivation to become a MHFAO included intrinsic interest in mental health, personal and knowing someone with lived experience, alignment with existing organisational roles, and anticipated rewards. Skill utilisation was critical for sustained motivation. Thirdly, MHFAO reported employee assistance programs, peer support groups and training as primary supports. Primary barriers to accessing support were confidentiality concerns and relational issues. MHFAO desired greater internal and external support groups, leader buy-in, and training. Discussion: As the second study on this population, this research explores and expands the lived experiences of MHFAO. Both theoretical and practical insights are elaborated as well as a future research agenda. © 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Mental Health
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Feb 2024


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