Header image: 341,173 people trained so far.

In this newsletter

A message from Simon Blake OBE

Simon Blake OBE, Chief Executive of MHFA England

Welcome to this newsletter – the first since I have been Chief Executive. It is an honour to have been appointed Chief Executive of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England. I have been in post for approximately two months and as any new Chief Executive I am on a steep learning curve. I have just completed my Adult MHFA Two Day course this week which was very insightful. If you want to find out a bit more about my background, do visit my LinkedIn page.

The world is changing fast – so much is changing in mental health and MHFA England, much of which you will read about in this newsletter. MHFA England must be able to both lead and respond to these changes and I am delighted to have kicked off an exciting strategy development process to build on our existing strengths and ensure we have a bold vision and strategy for the future. 

I wish you all the very best for the holiday season and I hope 2019 brings you lots of fun, happiness and adventure.

Winter wellbeing week


The MHFA England central office will be closed for its winter wellbeing break over the Christmas period. We will be closing at 4pm on Friday 21st December and will re-open at 9am on Wednesday 2nd January 2019. We will be unable to respond to enquiries via email, phone or social media during this time.

Keep an eye on our Twitter for '12 days of self care' - packed with tips and ideas to help you wind down for the winter season.

Campaigns and new guidance

Mental health first aid to be debated in ParliamentWhere's Your Head At? campaign image - Natasha Devon holding a sign with quote: 'We support the Open Letter delivered to the Prime Minister calling for a change in law to protect mental health in workplaces across the UK'.

You may be familiar with the Where’s Your Head At? campaign MHFA England is leading alongside Natasha Devon MBE and Bauer Media UK. This is calling for Health and Safety legislation to be updated to put mental and physical first aid on an equal footing.

Following the campaign’s petition, supported by over 200,000 people, last month we sent an open letter with the backing of over 50 industry leaders to the Prime Minister, calling on the Government to follow through on its 2017 manifesto pledge to change the law to give mental and physical first aid parity of esteem.

We had a fantastic response to this letter and the news of employers’ support for the campaign reached over 250 media outlets. Fionuala Bonnar, our Chief Operating Officer, also appeared on Radio 4's You and Yours programme, and a comment piece from our Chief Executive, Simon Blake, was featured in the Independent's Voices column.

The parliamentary debate

A parliamentary debate had been scheduled to take place on mental health first aid in the workplace on Wednesday 19th Decemeber. However, due to an emergency debate on a no-deal Brexit, this has now been postponed until early 2019. 

BUT, this means there’s still time for you to make your voice heard! We need as many MPs as possible to join in the debate when it does happen, so if you haven’t already, you can get involved by writing to your MP to call on them to take part – find out more at wheresyourheadat.org.

Alternatively, you can search for your MP and find them on twitter to let them know the debate is happening:

@(MP’s twitter handle) #Mentalhealthfirstaid will be debated in early 2019. As my MP, I’m asking you to join the discussion to bring parity of esteem to First Aid in the workplace - a call backed by employers and the general public bit.ly/2KXu2RT

Look out for further updates on the revised debate timing on the MHFA England news hub and our social media channels early next year.

Health and Safety Executive

In the same week as our Open Letter we were really pleased to see that the Health and Safety Executive announced new first aid guidance on mental health. This guidance marks a fundamental shift in their recommendation for how mental health support should be provided in the workplace.

Their guidance provides employers with advice on how to support employees experiencing a mental health issue, including having ‘mental health trained first aiders’. We are really pleased to see this significant step forward, but there is still work to be done. Keep an eye on how the campaign progresses at: mhfaengland.org/mhfa-centre/campaigns/wheres-your-head-at/.


Mental Health at Work gateway
Mental Health at Work gateway: Workplace resources at your fingertips.
We know that a mentally healthy workplace is good for everyone. The Mental Health at Work gateway gives you easy access to tools, resources and information to help support employee wellbeing for organisations of any size. Get started today at mentalhealthatwork.org.uk.


MENTOR study
Thumbnail of infographic of the MENTOR study

At the end of November, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) along with The University of Nottingham released their MENtal Health First Aid in The WORkplace (MENTOR) study into employees’ views on the impact of Mental Health First Aid in their workplace.

The study had some great findings on the impact of Mental Health First Aid, of which a couple of highlights were:

  • 91% of respondents said there had been an increased understanding of mental health issues in their workplace

  • 87% said more mental health conversations were happening at work

  • 83% had noticed an improvement in procedures for signposting to further support

We’ve put together a summary of the results here.

Participants needed to help develop new guidelines
Banner: Delphi study - participants needed. The study is to develop guidelines for providing mental health first aid to a person with an intellectual disability

Mental Health First Aid Australia and the University of Melbourne are undertaking a study to develop guidelines on how to provide Mental Health First Aid to a person with an intellectual disability.

MHFA Australia is inviting people who have unpaid carer, advocacy or professional experience in the field of intellectual disability and mental illness to take part in this study.

This includes unpaid carers, intellectual disability advocates and professionals with research, education or clinical experience.

For more information please visit the MHFA Australia website. If you have any queries, please contact Fairlie Cottrill, Research Officer at MHFA Australia on fairliec@mhfa.com.au or +61 3 9079 0207. 


Health and Wellbeing at Work conference
Health and Wellbeing at work conference: 5-6 March 2019. www.healthwellbeingwork.co.uk

Registration is now open for Health and Wellbeing at Work, the UK’s leading event for improving the health, safety, wellbeing and performance of work-aged people. Now in its 13th successful year, it combines 20 conference programmes with workshops and an exhibition. 

There is a dedicated mental health programme running both days together with streams covering emotional wellbeing, resilience and stress management, disaster preparedness and response, and occupational psychology.

Look out for MHFA England’s sessions with Debbie Francis profiling Ford Motor Company’s successful strategy for mental health and wellbeing, and former GB Olympian Helen Richardson-Walsh on how to create an environment where everybody thrives.

You can also follow themes throughout all programmes, covering issues such as domestic abuse, financial wellbeing, veteran health and sleep, fatigue and shiftwork. 

Book before 15 January and you can benefit from an early rate of just £40 + VAT for both days. You can register and view the full programme at healthwellbeingwork.co.uk.  

Course updates

Artwork for Youth Half Day
paint and paintbrushes

Artwork submissions have now closed for the Youth Mental Health Aware Half Day product. Thank you to everyone who shared the opportunity and every young person who submitted their amazing artwork. We will be judging the submissions in December and announcing the winner in early 2019.

Course videos

We are beginning to update our portfolio of videos shown on our courses and have started by filming a new film clip for the upcoming Youth Mental Health Aware Half Day course which will include optional BSL interpretation.

We'll keep you updated on this course as it gets ready to launch.


Evaluation of Youth MHFA in Schools programme
Youth MHFA in Schools year one infographic  

Researchers from University College London have evaluated the first year of the Youth MHFA in Schools programme. During the first year of the programme over 1,200 school staff attended a Youth MHFA One Day course, qualifying them as Youth MHFA Champions.

The evaluation involved over 1,000 school staff and found that following the training, staff reported around a three-fold (190%) increase in confidence in knowledge, skills and awareness to support a young person struggling with their mental health.

We created an infographic summarising the first year of the programme and the full evaluation can be found on our research & evaluations page.

MHFA England Central Team

We're moving!
Dachshund dog sitting in cardboard moving box

We’ve been in our current offices for the last ten years and having grown significantly during that time we have now outgrown the space. MHFA England head office is moving to new premises nearby in the Aldgate area of London.

Our new office is going to be a self-contained space within the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ premises which will provide us with a flexible working and meeting space. While first and foremost the Royal College of Psychiatrists had the right office space available for us, we are delighted to be located in the same building as the this respected professional body, with both our organisations sharing a common goal of promoting positive mental health.

We are due to move offices on Friday 1st February 2019, with Monday 4th February 2019 being our first working day from the new space. More information about this and any changes to our contact details will be shared with you in the new year.

We’re really excited about the move and this new, improved space will facilitate the next phase of our growth in order to help achieve our mission of training one in ten of the population in England in MHFA England skills.

Work with us

We’re continuing to grow our central team to provide our community with better service. If you're interested in joining the team, please visit our website careers page where you will find all current vacancies.