Greater London Authority – Youth Mental Health First Aid

The Youth Mental Health First Aid Schools Programme launched on 13 August 2018. It aims to ensure every state-funded primary and secondary school, sixth form and further education college in London has access to a Youth Mental Health First Aid by 2021. It will mean every London school has access to a dedicated member of staff with appropriate mental health training to support both themselves and their pupils.

The programme is a collaboration between Thrive LDN and Mental Health First Aid England, supported by funding from the Mayor of London through the Young Londoners Fund.

How will it work?

The programme will first increase the number of Youth Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructors in London, by providing 100 funded places on the Youth MHFA Instructor Training programme, accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health.

Once qualified, these instructors will go on to deliver Youth MHFA Two Day courses, initially seeing training delivered to approximately 2,000 school staff and peer mentors.

How to sign up

If you are interested in enrolling on Youth MHFA Instructor Training through this programme, please contact Thrive LDN) at .

Schools who wish to access their free place on a Youth MHFA Two Day course through this funded programme should contact Thrive LDN (

About Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid England is a community interest company. It delivers courses to a range of professionals and trainers. Those who complete their seven-day instructor Mental Health First Aid course are accredited to deliver the Mental Health First Aid one-day training. The course is accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health. By October 2018, over 270,000 people in England had received the training (42,000 for youth).

Mental Health First Aid England aims to raise mental health literacy through training and thereby reduce stigma and discrimination across communities by training one in 10 of the English population in mental health first aid skills. Their training is designed to teach people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first aid basis. In the same way as learning physical first aid, it teaches people how to recognise crucial mental ill health warning signs and be confident to guide someone to appropriate support.

Youth Mental Health Aid Instructor Training

Individuals undertaking this ‘train the trainer’ programme will go on to lead an ongoing programme of Youth Mental Health First Aid Two-Day training that can be delivered to anyone working with children and young people between the ages of 8-16 years, including teachers, public and third sector staff as well as parents and carers.

The Instructor Training programme takes place over seven days and is usually spread out over six weeks. This allows learners to become familiar with the material and reflect on their learning. Some of the instructors work independently and some are enrolled on the course on behalf of organisations and then deliver the training within that organisation.

Some Councils have sent staff on the courses and they have then trained a range of staff within the authority – these could have been school staff or other education staff, but may also be a range of staff working within adult services, children’s services, third sector etc. In Jessica’s experience such placements would most often be funded through Public Health budgets.

Mental Health First Aid have been funded by the Department of Health to use instructors trained in delivery to offer the one day course to at least one member of staff in each state secondary school in England, including Special Schools and PRUs. This is approximately 3000 schools. They are currently in Year 2 of this programme. In Year 1 they trained staff from just over 1000 schools and progress remains positive in Year 2. They are aware that in Year 3 they will need to engage those schools who have so far proved ‘hard to reach.’

They deliver the training by local authority area and use one school as the venue. If a school offers to host the training then this school can have up to four staff strained. Their experience is that the training is most effective when undertaken by a member of the senior leadership team, so this is what they are recommending to participating schools. They are not prescriptive about how the school implement any learning from the course. They encourage the development of a ‘whole school approach’.

The Department of Health programme is being evaluated by UCL. The initial report will be published in Autumn but the early indications are that staff report a growth in confidence in having conversations with young people regarding their emotional wellbeing and in how and when to signpost them to other appropriate services. There is an Expert Reference Group that is overseeing the Project and its outcomes.

Mental Health First Aid England has had feedback that school staff are often not aware of what is available to young people and how to refer them on.

Some schools have requested additional training for more staff. In these cases Mental Health First Aid England can recommend local instructors that the school can commission directly. Where local authorities had already had some staff trained and were running their own programmes it has been helpful to coordinate and local areas have used the training as a way of accessing and publicising their own programmes.