Putting an end to the stigma surrounding mental health

Awareness of mental health has increased thanks to communication programs and campaigns. The stigma surrounding mental illness is being stopped, making it easier to access support. However, there is a possibility of misinterpreting information from awareness campaigns. We have observed confusion between Mental Health support training programs, such as the widely known Mental Health First Aid program and psychological safety in our work. We understand the confusion, but it’s important to communicate the differences in these concepts – both of which can build better workplaces. 

  • Mental Health First Aid is an educational training program to recognise signs of mental illness and be able to help people in distress (or connect them to help).
  • Psychological safety is about creating environments where individuals feel valued, respected and secure.

What’s in store for Psychologically Safe Workplaces

Psychologically safe workplaces go beyond physical well-being; they allow people to be their authentic selves without fear of negative consequences. Arguably, they are more mentally healthy workplaces too and plenty of research has shown the link between the highest performing teams and psychologically safe teams (Edmondson, A.; Lei, Z. (2014). “Psychological Safety: The History, Renaissance, and Future of an Interpersonal Construct”. Annual Review of Organisational Psychology and Organisational Behaviour)


On the other hand, programs such as Mental Health First Aid can increase knowledge and attitudes related to providing help to teammates who are in distress, but the impact is primarily at an individual level.

Prioritising Mental Health + Psych Safety = Mentally Safe Workplaces
We believe that Mental Health First Aid type of training is valuable in the workplace, but it should not be the only approach to promoting wellbeing, and nor is it the most effective way to build psychological safety. 

We believe that Mental Health First Aid type of training is valuable in the workplace, but it should not be the only approach to promoting wellbeing, and nor is it the most effective way to build psychological safety. 

Building psychological safety is a leadership skill all leaders and managers should be trained in (there is much empirical research that supports this claim, with benefits across engagement, innovation and continuous improvement), while supporting teammates in distress is a skill all employees can learn about, especially identifying distress and guiding people to the right resources at the right time.


Training is only one part of building better workplaces and healthier teams and two programs all workplaces should consider include psychological safety and how to support teammates in distress. To make the greatest improvements in workplace mental health and psychological safety, roll out training programs like these, but do it in conjunction with policy and better work design.

Measuring workplace psychological safety

It’s important to recognise the impact workplaces have on mental health. Imagine a workplace where ideas are dismissed, vulnerability is discouraged, and harassment is the norm. This toxic environment can lead to burnout, high stress levels and low engagement (might be time to run for the hills!).


In contrast, a psychologically safe workplace refers to an environment where individuals feel a sense of connection and value. This concept (brought into the mainstream leadership and safety dialogue by the work of Professor Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School), is typically assessed through four key questions in order to measure psychological safety within a workplace:


  1. How acceptable is it to make mistakes?
  2. How open is the discussion of difficult and sensitive topics?
  3. How much freedom do you have to be yourself and feel welcomed for it?
  4. How willing are people to help each other?


Examining these measures, it becomes evident that Mental Health First Aid and psychological safety are two separate but interconnected concepts. Establishing a psychologically safe workplace is not solely dependent on one individual who has completed a four-day course or an online training course. It requires a collective effort from everyone in the workplace and necessitates ongoing actions and initiatives.

Knowing more about WeCARE365

There is a saying, often attributed to a personal development guru, that emphasises the power of focus: “where focus goes, energy flows.” At WeCARE, our focus is on providing tools for creating mentally healthy workplaces. We believe that fostering a mentally healthy work environment is a shared responsibility, not just for a few individuals with specific training. Research supports this idea, and we take it further by suggesting that individuals should not only be willing to help but also equipped with the necessary skills to do so and supported over time through spaced learning and practical job aids.


WeCARE (for all), WeCARE Manager and our WeCARE PsychSafety programs are purpose-built around this concept. They’re scalable with easy to implement touchpoints to build, extend and maintain psychological safety across the workforce. This in turn creates a mentally healthy workplace to stop little problems becoming bigger by helping people – not just Mental Health First Aiders – to identify when someone is struggling and to guide them to the help they need.


WeCARE365 programs are easily customised and designed to build  mentally healthy workplaces. To find out more about bringing WeCARE to your organisation, please reach out for a conversation.


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