Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

What is mental health first aid?

Speaking at the launch of Worthing’s 4th Mental Heath Awareness Week on World Mental Health Day, (Monday 10th October) Councillor Bob Smytherman proposed a challenge to those present to take the Take 10 Together challenge and undertake Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training organised by MHFA England and and delivered locally by local charity – Coastal West Sussex Mind – so we can meet our vision of parity of esteem in mental and physical first aid.

On World Mental Health Day, our Former Lib Dem Health Minister Norman Lamb MP submitted an Early Day Motion, requiring employers to train staff in mental health first aid as they currently do in physical first aid. He also wrote an excellent article in the Guardian outlining the case.

Were this Early Day Motion to go to ahead, those suffering mental ill health would have people around them who the recognise early warning signs of mental ill health and give support before problems become worse. Those trained in Mental Health First Aid have the confidence to come alongside people experiencing mental ill health and provide immediate help.

The text to the Early Day Motion is here. Bob has written to local MP Peter Bottomley to ask him to sign Early Day Motion 505. We encourage you to do the same. A draft letter which you can use is here.

We hope all parties will get behind this motion – all of us have mental and physical health, and this improved legislation will affect every person’s well-being. Legislating for mental health first aid will enable those in the workplace, teachers at schools; staff at universities, key workers in public services, those current physical First Aiders up and down the length and breadth of this country to treat the whole person, mental as well as physical, in whatever health crisis they face. True parity of esteem is still some way off – all health should be inclusive, but until we get there, let’s make sure we include Mental Health First Aid in all first aid training.


During the launch of Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week, Bob spoke movingly about the loss of both his sister and nephew to suicide and encouraged people to take the Take 10 Together challenge which involves putting in to practice the Mental Health First Aid and speaking with people on a daily basis about their mental health and really listening to them and feeling empowered to offer positive advice without stigma that is so often suffered by people when expressing how they really feel.

Bob is the co-founder of Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week and championed the issue for many years. Further details are available on the website 

Bob Smytherman is the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for East Worthing & Shoreham