Every state-funded primary and secondary school and further education college in London will have access to a Youth Mental Health First Aider (MHFAider) by 2021 as part of a new youth mental health programme. 

Launched by Thrive LDN and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, and supported by funding from the Mayor of London through the Young Londoners Fund, this new programme represents a considerable step towards better supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young Londoners. 

With half of all cases of mental ill health beginning by age 14, and three quarters by 24, improving mental health support across society for children and young people is a key challenge. 

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“The impact of poor mental health on children and young people can be devastating. It’s important to promote good mental health but we must be ready to support children who begin to feel vulnerable or mentally unwell. If these children do not get the support and help they need then they are at greater risk of poor educational achievement, isolation, developing further issues in adulthood or taking their own lives.

“It’s vital that we all work together to improve the mental health of young people in London and reduce stigma. We hope to achieve this by increasing the number of quality assured Youth Mental Health First Aid instructors in the city and equip every school in London with access to a member of staff with appropriate mental health training to support both themselves and their pupils.”

The planned Youth MHFA in London Schools programme will ensure schools 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.  

Funding will initially be provided for 100 places on the Youth MHFA Instructor Training programme, which will double the number of Youth MHFA instructors in the region. These instructors will lead the programme by delivering Youth MHFA Two Day courses to approximately 2,000 teachers, pastoral staff, and peer mentors across schools in London.

Fionuala Bonnar, Chief Operating Officer, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, said:

“Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches people the skills and confidence to spot the signs of mental health issues in a young person, offer first aid and guide them towards the support they need. In doing so, this can speed up a young person’s recovery and stop a mental health issue from getting worse.

“Mental Health First Aid England is already working with a number of schools across the City as part of the Department of Health funded Youth MHFA in Schools programme. We are excited to build on this reach, and support the Mayor’s ambition to now train a Youth Mental Health First Aider in every school in London.” 

Those interested in accessing training as part of the programme should contact Thrive London (youthmhfa@thriveldn.co.uk). Find more information on Youth MHFA training and the learning outcomes here.