2018 is going to be remembered for all sorts of reasons. Not all the right ones.  I can imagine the history and politics exam papers in years to come will probably just be a simple: ‘2018: Discuss’. 

For MHFA England it has been an important and exciting year. 

I was privileged to take over the reins from Poppy Jaman, the founder and CEO in October this year. I head off for our staff winter wellbeing week after ten weeks in role inspired by the talented and committed people - the central staff team, the Instructor Community, National Training Team, and our Associates - and the work that we do. 

I completed my Mental Health First Aider training a few weeks ago as part of my induction. All I want to know is ‘why didn’t I know this and learn these skills 20 plus years ago when I did my first aid courses?’ I know the skills I learnt could have helped in both my personal and professional life, and perhaps even helped prevent the death of a friend who died by suicide not very long ago.

As the lights go down on 2018 a few reflections on the year;

  • The people we have trained: we have now trained over 349,000 people 
  • Working with clients: our instructors have worked with new and existing clients across the corporate, public and third sector who are using MHFA as a core component of their workplace strategies
  • The Where’s Your Head At? Campaign: We worked with cross-party MPs – Luciana Berger, Norman Lamb and Johnny Mercer – Natasha Devon and Bauer Media Group on the Where’s Your Head At? Campaign (www.wheresyourheadat.org) calling for parity of esteem between Physical Health First Aid and Mental Health First Aid. Over 200,000 people have supported the campaign which is due to be debated in Parliament in January 2019
  • Mental Health Week and World Mental Health Day 2018 campaigns: we published the#AddressYourStress toolkit and#HandsUpForHealthyMinds campaigns
  • Evaluation and evidence: two reports were published, one commissioned by MHFA Englandfocused on our schools work and one commissioned byIOSH which looked at MHFA in the workplace. Both showed the positive impact of our work and gave us insight into areas we can improve on 
  • Organisational development: we implemented a range of organisational changes to ensure we can deliver on our bold ambitions to train one in ten people in mental health first aid, including an exciting office move in February 2019 
  • Building a strategy for impact: we have kicked off the process to build our next strategy which will be published in 2019


A massive thank you to everyone who has worked as part of, or with, the MHFA England Community this year. Together we are both creating and changing the conversation about mental health: helping break down stigma, calling for and contributing to a change in culture where mental health has parity of esteem with physical health, and mental health first aid has parity of esteem with physical health first aid.

Lots done. Lots more to do. 

Have a restful break and I look forward to working with you to make 2019 a year to remember for all the right reasons.