The Mayor of London has awarded further funding to expand the coverage of Youth Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to include youth clubs, charities working with young Londoners and universities. 

The additional funding from the Young Londoners Fund will expand the current programme, managed in partnership by Thrive LDN and Mental Health First Aid England, to increase the number of trained Youth Mental Health First Aiders working with young people across London. 

Launched in August 2018, the partnership is on course to ensure that every state-funded primary, secondary school and further education college in London has access to Youth MHFA by 2021. The roll out of coverage to the youth sector will further ensure that young Londoners get the timely support they need when experiencing mental health issues – both in and out of the classroom.

Half of all cases of diagnosable mental illness begin by age 14 and three-quarters by the age of 24. The Youth Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training programme will now ensure that schools and youth settings have access to a trained individual who can recognise the crucial warning signs and symptoms of poor mental health in young people and can guide a young person to the appropriate support.   

The expansion of the three-year programme continues the Mayor’s drive to help and support children and young people to fulfil their potential, with a particular focus on improving the mental health and wellbeing of all young Londoners. 

The additional funding is due to the success of the programme’s first year which saw 101 new Youth MHFA Instructors trained during 2018/19, who went onto deliver training to more than 1,300 education staff across every London borough.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“The health and wellbeing of young Londoners is crucial to our city’s future success and supporting good mental health is a key part of that. That’s why we are expanding the Youth Mental Health First Aid programme beyond the classroom, so that we can support even more children and young people. 

“I launched the Young Londoners Fund to empower young people to fulfil their potential and live safe, happy and healthy lives, and this extended support will ensure that no young person has to face issues with their mental health alone.”

Simon Blake, Chief Executive, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, said:

“As a social enterprise, we start in the workplace and reinvest in supporting the next generation. We know 50% of mental health issues start by age 14 and 75% by age 24. This is why having support in place to recognise when a young person is struggling and to be able to signpost them to further support is so important. 

“We are excited to build the reach of our current partnerships and support the Mayor’s ambition to train those in the youth sector who work with or support children across London. Together, we will create a society where everyone’s mental health matters.” 

Philip Glanville, the Mayor of Hackney and co-lead of Thrive LDN, said:

“Good mental health is essential for children and young people to be able to thrive in life. The Youth MHFA programme, funded by the Mayor of London’s Young Londoners Fund, is a great example of the partnership approach that Thrive LDN is taking to ensure that the correct support is being offered to children and young people in London who begin to feel vulnerable or mentally unwell.

"Personally, I took part in a Thrive LDN supported MHFA course last year in Hackney, seeing first-hand the impact it can have in building a deeper understanding of how we all have a role in supporting good mental health and wellbeing.”

A citywide evaluation by University College London is underway to assess the impact on schools, pupils and teachers from the programme. In their findings from the national evaluation of the one-day Youth MHFA training in schools and colleges, researchers found that after training, staff reported an increased ability to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination in their schools, raising whole school awareness of mental health issues.

Lead researcher for the impact evaluation study of Youth MHFA within schools and colleges across England, Dr Sveta Mayer, University College London, said:

“Our national evaluation showed up to 90 per cent of staff who responded to our survey one school year after their Youth MHFA training were highly confident in helping students with mental health issues, compared with 30 per cent of respondents beforehand. Additionally, we found that students wanted more opportunities to learn about mental health and talk about their own mental health. 

“Training staff within the wider youth sector, means students in London will not only have a seamless experience in being helped, if and when needed, but also more opportunities to become aware of their own and other’s mental health.”

The programme is now open and those who are interested in accessing Youth MHFA training as part of this funded programme should contact Thrive LDN on

You can find out more about Youth MHFA training and the learning outcomes by visiting