Coronavirus update, 9 June, 2020

Due to the lockdown and unpredictable nature of the current crisis, Mental Health First Aid England, Centre for Mental Health and London South Bank University have agreed to put on hold all of our work on this project.

We will be reviewing this decision in the Autumn and assess whether the project can be continued safely for everyone involved.

It has not been an easy decision to make as the Empower research project is such an important study particularly at a time when a focus on mental health in the workplace is all the more important. In normal times poor mental wellbeing in the workplace has a significant impact both on individual businesses and on the economy as a whole.

It is estimated that the business cost of mental ill health at work is almost £45 billion a year nationwide. There is increasing understanding that employers can reduce some of these costs by taking positive action to improve mental health at work and create supportive, healthier, more productive businesses. For every £1 spent on supporting people’s mental health, employers can get £5 back on their investment in reduced presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover.

We hope to be able to recommence the project and again to be able to offer free training places to organisations taking part.

We will update this notice as soon as we learn more but otherwise please contact Dr Graham Durcan via to find out more.

Study background 

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England has commissioned the Centre for Mental Health and London South Bank University to conduct a three year research project to study the impact of MHFA England interventions in the workplace. 

Starting in January 2020, the ‘Empower’ research project will be carried out over three years. It is the first academic study of its kind in the UK to explore the benefits to employees of mental health first aid intervention dispensed in the workplace by a specially qualified MHFA England professional.

The research will take the form of a randomised controlled trial, comparing businesses that are undergoing the Adult MHFA Two Day training courses to companies not using the scheme. The study aims to shed light on employee experiences of providing and receiving mental health first aid while exploring the effectiveness of the training programme, its economic impact and wider impact on organisational culture.

Licensed Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) has an international reputation as a successful mental health literacy programme for use in workplaces, schools, colleges and universities.

Most of the existing research on MHFA training globally has explored the impact of the training on those who have attended. However, this study, which started in early 2020, is the first to explore the benefits to those who receive mental health support from a MHFA England trained person.

It will also look at the overall benefits to the organisations which adopt our training and compare them with those who have not received it. 

MHFA England seeks to benefit organisations by delivering training and consultancy which:

  1. Gives employees the tools to keep themselves and their colleagues healthy

  2. Encourages help-seeking

  3. Empowers people with long term mental health concerns or disabilities to thrive in work

  4. Builds a supportive culture that stops preventable health issues arising

  5. Helps to embed positive, long term cultural change across organisations

To find out more about this study, contact the research team on