Last week, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England was delighted to once again attend one of the biggest workplace wellbeing events of the year, Health and Wellbeing at Work 2019.

Held at the NEC in Birmingham, we joined hundreds of attendees to hear about the latest industry developments and to share information and insights on MHFA England training.

Stand 86 was our home for the two-day conference, which saw plenty of footfall from mental health advocates and workplace practitioners looking to find out more about MHFA England training and our brand new implementation guidance, which launched in the run up to the event. 

Introducing and embedding MHFA England training was a hot topic of conversation on our stand, with plenty of talk on the new guidance.

It was really encouraging to hear employers from across a range of industries talking about their plans to make use of it - some in getting to grips with starting their workplace wellbeing journeys and others in fine-tuning their existing MHFA programmes. 

The conference was also an ideal opportunity to showcase our brand-new infinity cards – an environmentally friendly alternative to our workplace brochures.

On day one, it was a pleasure to hear talks from two of MHFA England's guests.

Head of Occupational Health and Wellbeing at leading energy company RWE Generation UK, Robert Manson, chaired the day's mental health stream - Robert spoke about the latest evidence for the effectiveness of MHFA England training in the workplace, and its implementation as part of a whole organisation approach. 

We then heard from Debbie Francis, Senior HR Business Partner at Ford UK who discussed how Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAiders) have helped to support the organsiation's wider workplace wellbeing strategy since it signed up to the Time to Change pledge.

Debbie also discussed Ford’s groundbreaking ‘Elephant in the Transit Van’ campaign, demonstrating how Ford is working on all fronts to break stigma and raise mental health awareness.

On Wednesday, the conference's mental health stream was chaired by Sally Evans, Diversity & Inclusion and Employee Wellbeing Consultant at PwC - another organisation which is making MHFA England training an integral part of its workplace wellbeing approach.

To close the second series of talks, we heard from double-Olympic medallist, European Champion and Team GB hockey international Helen Richardson-Walsh.  

Helen provided some fascinating insights on how she and her team mates learned to support each others' mental health during the rigours of elite sport. She discussed the power of working collaboratively, and how discovering that each peer can be motivated and demotivated by different things helped the team grow as a team and understand each other better.

She also touched on how she dealt with difficult periods, such as recovering from injury and having to move on from the highs of an Olympic medal.

After a fantastic two days of discussion, collaboration and insights, MHFA England is looking forward to returning for our fifth year in 2020, when we hope to have supported even more employers to use our training to raise mental health awareness and encourage open conversation about mental health and the support available. 

For the thoughts of our Chief Executive, Simon Blake OBE, you can read his blog.

For more on the Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference, head to their website.