Mental Health First Aid England - 10 Year Anniversary Event

Mental Health First Aid England - 10 Year Anniversary Event

“Mental Health First Aid produces stars which fill the world with light” A great opening quote from Poppy Jaman, CEO of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, at their recent 10-year anniversary event in Birmingham. Irwin & Colton were lucky enough to be invited to the day and what an excellent day it proved to be!

Earlier in the year, we filmed a Safety Bytes video with Poppy and having gone through the MHFA light course myself, I was eager to get a further understanding of where MHFA England have come from? and where there are going? both answers surprised.

The event was attended by over 500 people, all invited as they are linked to MHFA England in some way. It was an extremely diverse audience, many qualified MHFA instructors however there were also soldiers, water engineers and HR professionals.

Poppy opened with an overview of the development of MHFA England over the past 10 years. From 8 people in an office in 2007 and a budget of £35,000 to now briefing the Cabinet. From 9060 people trained in MHFA in 2009 to 218,000 in 2017, including Norman Lamb, Prince Harry and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Perhaps the most surprising ‘accolade’ was MHFA being named one of the fastest growing companies in Europe by the Financial Times (MHFA England is a Community Interest Company).

After achieving so much in 10 years a lot of organisations would rest on their laurels, satisfied with a job well done. However, moving forward the executive team at MHFA England have set the ambitious goal of training 1 in 10 of the UK adult population.....5.3m people! This will be no mean feat, if they have climbed a mountain in the past 10 years they are shooting for the moon in the next 10, although there is something about the positive, good willed, ambitious nature of the organisation, reflected in the room of 500, which tells me they will get there.

Next on the stage were Johnny Benjamin and Neil Laybourn. Johnny is a prominent mental health campaigner and well known from a “stranger on the bridge” and #findingmike social media campaign. The successful campaign was to both raise awareness around mental health and to ‘find’ Neil (not mike!), as he had stopped and talked with Johnny in 2008 as Johnny was sat on Waterloo Bridge with the intention of committing suicide.

I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room after the interview. The talk moved from the pits of despair through to the amazing impact the two now have as international speakers on mental health and wellbeing.  I cannot think of a better case study for anyone who has been through or is going through difficult times, a clear example that there can be light at the end of the tunnel.

The winners of the awards ceremony were then announced. A fantastic array of achievements from ‘Most Inspirational Individual’ through to ‘Most Obscure Environment’ and ‘Excellence in Training’. Great work recognised by all involved!

There was then a Q&A with the (all female) Board which was a great chance for the central team at MHFA to communicate with a wide group of trainers, surely this communication is one of the most challenging and vital aspects of an organisation growing so rapidly.

The day was then capped off by seminars in different areas, particularly those relevant to MHFA instructors.

Great day had by all, thank you to Poppy and the team for the invite and keep up the amazing work!

James Irwin is a Director at Irwin & Colton, a specialist Health and Safety recruitment company, based in the South East of England we recruit across the UK. We recruit all roles in the health and safety industry from Health and Safety Manager, Health and Safety Director through to Health and Safety Advisor positions.

Posted on Friday Dec 8