In this newsletter:

Welcome to your December (MHFA) England newsletter. MHFA England, like any organisation, has faced an extraordinary 2020. It has been far from business as usual. The coronavirus pandemic has forced us all to quickly develop new ways of working.

Despite the challenges, we have trained over 45,000 people in mental health knowledge and skills. From the rapid digital transformation of our training, to the success of the My Whole Self campaign and our commitment to becoming an anti-racist organisation, I am thankful for everyone’s enduring hard work and commitment.

As I reflect on the past 12 months, there has arguably never been a greater need for our work to improve the mental health of the nation. I am deeply grateful to the entire MHFA England community, who have played a key part in allowing us to move closer to our mission of training one in ten people in mental health and awareness skills, despite the challenges brought about by coronavirus.

As we come to the end of the year, it’s important to reflect on all that we have done to work towards a future where everyone’s mental health matters. Furthermore, with the festive season approaching, please remember to practise self-care, be kind to one another, and prioritise your own mental health as well as supporting others’.

I hope you are all able to take some time to relax and re-charge over the Christmas break, and I look forward to seeing what our community will continue to achieve in 2021.

Simon Blake
CEO, MHFA England

Mental Health First Aid England

An overview of 2020 at MHFA England 

In addition to the transition of our training from face-to-face to online, the pandemic has impacted other areas of our work as a social enterprise. Just days before the launch of our new campaign, My Whole Self, we learnt the country was going into a national lockdown. Launching My Whole Self Day on 18 March suddenly felt impossible, but within a week, we adapted our campaign resources and activities, focusing them on staying connected and maintaining wellbeing whilst working remotely.

Prior to the pandemic, we made profit with pride to support the mental health of young people, reaching them through sport and recreation. Coronavirus meant that many of these services were not operating. We re-evaluated where we could have the most impact and decided to focus on the NHS and frontline workers, where there was an urgent need for mental health support.
The issue of inequality, race and racism has been high on our agenda through the pandemic. Following the brutal and unjust murder of George Floyd, we issued a statement to stand in solidarity with People of Colour and Black people.

We have committed to becoming an anti-racist organisation, and we are continuing to work across the MHFA England community to educate staff, Instructor Members, clients and partners on what it means to be anti-racist. We have developed guidance on supporting People of Colour and Black colleagues and run a number of webinars on becoming anti-racist, with over 2000 people joining or watching our sessions.

It has been a busy year and this summary barely scratches the surface of what MHFA England and our community has achieved. Once again, thank you for your ongoing support.

MHFA England recognised on UK Social Enterprise Roll of Honour 2020 

We are delighted to let you know that we have been recognised on the UK Social Enterprise Roll of Honour, for our work supporting people throughout the pandemic. This is a testament to the efforts and commitment of all staff, Instructor Members and the entire MHFA England community, allowing us to move closer to our mission of training one in ten people in mental health and awareness skills, despite the challenges brought about by coronavirus. You can read more about it here.
Supporting the Mental Health of our NHS 

Our work in supporting the NHS continues. We are delivering mental health training at over 60 NHS Trusts at specialist rates to make sure our frontline workers are supported. We’ve also trained hundreds of volunteers on the NHS Check and Chat programme and we have been able to turn to our Instructor Members for their support too.

An incredible 300 volunteered to support Our Frontline, the mental health support service for NHS and care workers. We would like to thank everyone who has given up their time to support the people caring for others.
We have also been working in partnership with the NHS Homelessness Response Team and Homeless Link. We have developed guidance sessions for those on the frontline working with people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, during to the pandemic. We have trained over 550 delegates so far.
If you or someone that you know is working on the frontline with people who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness, you can attend a free Mental First Aid guidance session. You can find out more information about this here
My Whole Self

2020 saw the launch of our My Whole Self campaign. It aimed to shine a light on the link between our diverse identities, our experiences of belonging, and workplace mental health. We believe this is central to creating healthier workplace cultures where mental health is protected and nourished.

This year, we put together resources on ‘Staying Connected’ and ‘Becoming an anti-racist organisation’ to help organisations support employees to be their whole self. Thousands of you have downloaded these resources so far.
Watch out for more exciting plans for My Whole Self in the new year.
Depression and Me
We would like to remind you that our film, Depression and Me, is available on the MHFA England YouTube channel.

It features a conversation between Chloe Davies, Head of PR and Partnerships at myGwork, and actor Denise Welch about their mental health journeys. Chloe and Denise provide an honest account of their experiences of mental ill health and how depression impacts them. They talk about stigma, intersectionality and its impact on mental health, the importance of seeking support, and finding a therapist that can understand and relate to your lived experience.  

We hope that you find Depression and Me to be helpful in educating yourself, your workplace, and your communities about depression and mental ill health. 

Suicide First Aid Associate Tutor Training and Development Programme

We are delighted to be working in partnership with the National Centre for Suicide Prevention, Education and Training (NCSPET) to deliver the Suicide First Aid (SFA) Associate Tutor Training and Development Programme.

We are aiming to train at least 200 people in 2021, extending the reach of vital suicide prevention skills. We have been working with the NCSPET to recruit and train a team of SFA National Tutors who will lead in delivering the programme. The SFA National Tutor team will be managed and supported by MHFA England and will lead this exciting new venture in collaboration with colleagues at the NCSPET.
We know that people are experiencing a variety of challenging situations at the moment. It is important to look out for one another. We encourage you to read our blog on how we can help to prevent suicide.

Webinars and events

This year, we have hosted a series of webinars exploring various themes around workplace mental health and wellbeing. You can view recordings of all our past webinars here.

There is still time to join our final webinar of 2020 – Learning from the pandemic: what does mental health at work look like in 2021? You can find out more about the session and register here. Please do share with your networks and workplaces, as we are able to offer up to 1000 free places on this session.

Looking to 2021


Many are starting to think about their plans for mental health and wellbeing in the workplace in 2021. MHFA England offers a range of online mental health training courses to help you manage your own and your employees’ mental health.

If you want to find out more about creating work environments where everyone can thrive, please contact our workplace team to discuss your 2021 wellbeing strategy.

Winter Wellbeing Week reminder

A key part of our wellbeing strategy at MHFA England is to provide all staff with a Winter Wellbeing Week, which gives people the chance to truly step away from their work, reduce stress, and re-charge. This year, the MHFA England office will be closed from 5pm on Wednesday 23 December until 9am on Monday 4 January. We will not be able to respond to calls, emails or social media posts during this time.

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