Let’s start by blowing our own trumpet: Randstad RiseSmart has recently been recognised as a Gold MHFA skilled workplace.

The first time I heard about Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) was a couple of years ago when our resident coaches attended the internationally recognised 2-day course from MHFA Australia. I hadn’t quite made the connection between mental health and how it related to me as an employee, not being a coach myself. I knew what first aid looked like, but I wasn’t too sure about mental health first aid. Next thing I knew, I was attending an office lunch & learn session on MHFA. It helped me connect the dots:

  • Mental health is for everyone because we all feel, think, behave and relate to others.
  • I work with people – MHFA is relevant to me as an employee, colleague and person.
  • Like safety or gender equality, mental health is everyone’s business.

Everyone (100%, said the survey) who attended the MHFA accreditation course recommended it with the following feedback – ‘everyone should do it’. I signed up, took it all in and quickly joined the ‘everyone should do it’ chorus. How do you know if a colleague is going through a mental health crisis or just one of life’s downs? How confident are we as career transition experts assisting a suicidal participant? What difference do MHFA skills make to a workplace? And why are they necessary when providing redeployment and outplacement services?

the ‘why’

In our industry, we deal with people who have lost their jobs to redundancy, most often than not, involuntarily. We know first-hand how job loss, uncertainty and fear of unemployment can be a trigger. Over time, we’ve collected many anecdotes from coaches who have met with participants with serious mental illnesses. This is not just about duty of care. We need to minimise the impact of mental illness so that our programs can be successful.

As an employer, we have lost one of our dear coaches to suicide. We feel it. Hard.

The maths is also telling us to do something about it. Conservatively, 20% of Australians experience a mental illness at some point – 1 in 5. According to the latest national report on ‘Indicators of a Thriving Workplace Survey’, half of the Australian workforce has experienced a mental health condition in 2019. Since we touch the lives of 6,000 people per year in career transitioning, development, outplacement, and redeployment solutions… that means we can proactively support the mental wellbeing of thousands of people.

We want our programs to succeed, our participants to achieve their desired outcomes, and our workforce to be inclusive and empowered to do their best work. No need to remind you that healthy and happy employees have a direct impact on the company’s bottom line through better engagement, productivity and overall awesomeness. Knowing how to recognise the signs of mental health issues and knowing what to do in the first instance makes sense personally, professionally, ethically and commercially.

MHFA training is our way to help us catch people early and provide meaningful, effective support, optimising the employee experience

alison hernandez, randstad risesmart managing director APAC

the ‘how’

We do everything for our mental health support to be tangible and practical: we make sure we have an executive sponsor, a project manager and SMEs including an in-house MHFA instructor. We publish our own Mental Health Guidelines for Australia, New Zealand and Singapore and a contact list of appointed MHFA officers on our Intranet for good measure.

skilled coaches

So far, 60% of our workforce is certified in MFHA and when we checked, 90% of them have applied their newly acquired skills at work or in the wider community since the training. We apply a continuous learning philosophy and have embedded the MHFA accredited course in all our personal development plans. MHFA is a top priority in both our face-to-face and online training schedules – we want everyone to be able to access the training regardless of their location so that we can provide consistent access to appropriate support nationally. Besides increasing the quality of our coaches, investing in our coaches’ MHFA skills allows us to provide the ultimate coaching support.


First aid comes first – that’s why we address mental health with our participants at the first opportunity. In the first 24 hours of redeployment or redundancy notification, our team reaches out to participants and checks the wellbeing and mental health of the person. Once in a program, our qualified coaches support our participants holistically through career transitioning and development solutions, and that includes wellbeing as a key area impacted by change.


We take mental health seriously and we want our clients to know. But this is more than a marketing differentiator. Weaving mental wellbeing into our pre-change support programs means that we can protect our client’s employer brand by decreasing the risks of mental health incidents, improving their NPS and alumni sentiment rating while setting their projects up for success and ultimately providing cost-neutral outplacement solutions. With a focus on mental health and wellbeing right from the start, many of our clients experienced outcomes beyond their expectations.

where next…

Our programs have an overall satisfaction average of 98% and we know of several lives saved.

Our goal is to create a workplace environment where all team members safely discuss their mental health issues and where MHFA can be provided when professional help is not always immediately available or sought. At the same time, our agenda includes spreading the word by correcting people’s misconceptions about mental health problems and advocating for MHFA publicly in Australia and globally.

Living out our commitment to inclusion and diversity and future-proofing our workforce with skills that AI are unlikely to replace is part of our human forward promise.

mental health at risesmart

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27 November 2019

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