Michelle Obama 180Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) has called on the government to invest in more training at school level following the launch of a scheme to train 3 million Americans, including schoolteachers, in mental health first aid.

First Lady Michelle Obama pledged to ensure these "incredibly useful skills to help someone in need" become common knowledge across the States in an expansion of the mental health first aid training programme, which is run across 23 countries.

The training model teaches people to be able to spot the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and provide support on a first aid basis.

As the sole provider of mental health first aid training in England, MHFA is urging the government to follow America’s lead and invest the money needed to ensure as a first step that all teachers are trained in Youth MHFA.

"What we need now is the government to follow through on its recommendations to bring parity of esteem into our society and set aside the necessary funding for all schools to have at least one trained Mental Health First Aider," said Poppy Jaman, CEO of MHFA.

"Ideally the Youth MHFA course should be made a mandatory part of initial teacher training so that teachers are given the necessary tools to spot the signs and symptoms of mental health issues in pupils and have the confidence to guide them to appropriate support, such as a school counselling service or children and adolescent mental health services."

'All teachers should be trained'
Obama's call came on the same day that Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, and Conservative MP James Morris spoke at the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Mental Health’s inquiry report into parity of esteem.

A key recommendation of the Parity of Progress? report was that all teachers should be trained to spot the signs of an early mental health issue.

Commenting on the release of the report, Morris, chair of the APPG on Mental Health said: "While there have been some good commitments from Government and the NHS to improving mental health services, our inquiry found that progress has been unacceptably slow.

"There has been long-term failure over successive governments to give mental health equal priority with physical health; for too long poor quality mental health care has been tolerated in a way that would not be acceptable in physical health care. Swift action must now be taken to ensure that the one in four people who experience mental health in their lifetime get the treatment they need and deserve."

For more information visit www.mhfaengland.org