Our guide to Mental Health First Aid in schools - The Mind Map
By Dean Temple

Our guide to Mental Health First Aid in schools

More actions are needed to address the amplifying crisis in children’s mental health.

Published 05/08/2021
Last month, World Mental Health Day placed a real focus on youth mental health.

Our world is increasingly stressful for young people to grow up in.

From exam stresses to social media, the pressures young people are navigating are unlike any faced by our generations past.

We know that 50% of mental health issues are established by age 14.

It was reported in 2017 that over 800,000 children experienced mental health issues.

The scale of the problem is evident.

More actions are needed to address the amplifying crisis in children’s mental health.

One part of the solution is ensuring that we build mentally healthy environments for young people from the outset.

And it’s here that a holistic, across the school, approach can help.

This means school staff, parents, governors and young people;

… working collaboratively to concentrate on wellbeing in every area of school life.

It involves giving everyone a say.

Considering the school culture, its curriculum, policies, links to local services and training needs.

This is all in the interest of creating a supportive community where everyone can flourish.

If a student, or a member of staff, is struggling with their mental health, evidence shows that well timed support is essential too.

Intervening early if someone is displaying signs or symptoms of mental ill health can be so important in helping them get on a road to recovery or to manage symptoms.

Youth Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training is one intervention being used by thousands of schools as part of their ‘whole school’ plan to tackle mental health issues.

This evidence-based course gives staff skills and self confidence to recognise the signs and symptoms of everyday mental health issues.

They will be able to

  • start a conversation
  • effectively aid a young person towards the right support.

University College London research has also demonstrated that Youth MHFA training leads to a triple increase in confidence in knowledge, skills, and awareness.

This allows those who have taken the course to truly effectively support a young person struggling with their mental health.

It’s important this training is rolled out to all schools.

Teachers have a vital role to play in helping children who may be experiencing mental ill health.

Picking up on issues as early as possible and leading a young person towards support quickly can also mean that a mental health issue has a less profound impact on their social, emotional and academic growth.

Ensuring there is a ‘whole school’ approach to mental health helps with this because it removes the stigma around mental health and encourages children to talk about their feelings.

One in 10 children of school age will experience a mental health condition at any time.

Half of all mental health conditions begin before the age of 14, making intervention and support at an early age essential.

The introduction of Mental Health First Aid training supports the government’s promise of better mental health services and to protect those living with mental health issues from discriminatory or unfair treatment.

Earlier this year, the prime minister announced that every secondary school in the country would be offered the training, as part of a comprehensive message to transform mental health support for children and young people.


After completing the Youth MHFA One Day course you’ll qualify as a Youth MHFA Champion.

Once qualified you’ll be able to:

Display an understanding of mental health issues and how they can affect youths

Use skills to spot signs of poor mental health in young people and help them towards the right support

Confidently advocate for mental health awareness

Implement skills to support positive personal wellbeing


Completion of this course will qualify you as a Youth Mental Health First Aider.

You’ll then be able to:

Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of youth mental health and factors that can affect personal wellbeing

Use skills effectively, to notice the triggers and warning signs of mental ill health

Confidently approach, reassure, and support young people who may be in distress

Utilise interpersonal skills, including non-judgemental listening

Assist a young person in their recovery by guiding them to support, eg. the NHS, self-help information

Assist a young person with a long-term mental health issue or disability

Utilise skills to take care of your own mental health and wellbeing


The Youth Half Day course aims to raise awareness of young people’s mental health over an introductory three hour session.The course will provide you with:

An understanding of common mental health issues that affect young people, including anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, and psychosis

Skills needed to confidently support young people with a mental health issue

Skills needed to effectively work with young people experiencing mental health issues

Delegates will also take a brief look at the course content available on the Youth MHFA: Two Day course

How effective are our Mental Health First Aid courses?

Independent research and evaluation shows that taking part in a Mental Health First Aid course

  • raises awareness of mental illnesses
  • urges early intervention to support recovery
  • increases confidence in dealing with mental illnesses
  • reduces the stigma around it.

Research suggests that improving UK workplace mental health management could reduce employers’ losses attributed to mental illness by 30%, overall saving 8 billion a year.

Schools have a legal duty of care to ensure that staff and pupils are provided with a safe environment.

They must take reasonable care to prevent personal injury (including mental or physical harm) that may arise in the setting.

A staff member or young person with poor mental health may not realise what they are experiencing.

Even if they do, they may be unwilling to seek help, or they might not know where to turn for care.

There is still a great lack of knowledge around mental health issues – including uncertainty about how to recognise mental illness, and uncertainty about how to react when faced with it.

This means that those in need of mental health help and support do not always receive it.

When left uninformed, managers, teachers, pupils and others, may unwittingly exhibit judgemental behaviours, which can be detrimental to a person experiencing a mental health issue.

Who should attend these courses?

Please be aware that these courses focus on employees in the workplace and cover subjects that some people may find distressing, including suicide and self-harm.

If anyone feels overwhelmed they can leave the course at any time.

If you are unsure whether MHFA is right for you and your school, please contact us to discuss your options.

Take a look at our different courses here