“I think there’s a wave of change coming in mental health,” said Poppy Jaman, CEO of Mental Health First Aid England.

Speaking with award winning mental health journalist, Mary O’Hara, Poppy said that bringing Mental Health First Aid into schools is just the first step. A government backed initiative, announced in January 2017, will see Mental Health First Aid training courses offered to more than 1,000 secondary schools in its first year, with every secondary school in England offered the opportunity to attend this important skills-based training by the end of 2020.

Speaking about MHFA England’s goal to bring parity of esteem to mental and physical health, Poppy shared that she is campaigning to amend regulations around first aid within the Health and Work Act, so that all organisations would be required to deliver mental as well as physical first aid. She commented: “I truly believe that making this legislative change would have a big positive impact because it would shift the dial on how employers have to think about the mental and physical health needs of their workforce.”

Touching on her own experiences as a third-generation British Bangladeshi and in her early professional work, Poppy called for more mental health support for minority groups and for people who are unemployed, for example support offered in jobcentres. “There is a plethora of data on health outcomes, job outcomes and opportunities for the black and minority ethnic community and when you overlay that with the prevalence of mental ill health and outcomes, the odds are stacked against them. (…) [The jobcentre] service needs people who understand mental health so that people are getting the right support,” she says.

You can read the full interview with Poppy on the Guardian website.