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MHFA Ireland – Home Working and Wellbeing Survey

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced thousands of us to work from home, but how is this affecting our mental and physical wellbeing?

 Our mission at Mental Health First Aid Ireland is, through education and training, to create supportive communities in Ireland with a willingness to address mental health problems when they arise and enable recovery in a supportive and empathetic way. 

In this regard, Mental Health First Aid Ireland is undertaking a survey that will help us assess how working at home for an extended period is affecting the Irish workforce. Whether you’re new to working from home or an experienced practitioner, with your help we can begin to find out more about the effects of home working, whether positive or negative.  

We have replicated an anonymous questionnaire originally created by Stephen Bevan and his team at the Institute for Employment Studies in the UK. Once we have collected sufficient sample data we will analyse the results and make our findings freely available on the MHFA Ireland website.

To take part in our anonymous questionnaire just click here.

Your participation will help us build a bigger, more accurate picture of how homeworking is affecting our working lives through these unprecedented times, and we would like to thank you for your participation in helping to develop a more accurate picture of the effects of home working.

We would also invite you to share this survey with your colleagues, friends, and family who may be home working at this time.


Record Number of People Trained in Mental Health First Aid

World Mental Health Day 2019

Over 6,000 People trained in Ireland since programme commenced 4 years ago

Approximately 1 in 5 Irish people will experience a diagnosable mental health difficulty in any given year

9th October 2019: Mental Health First Aid Ireland announced today that they have trained over 6,000 people in their internationally evidence-based programme since commencing training in Ireland only 4 years ago. Developed in Australia, MHFA is now being actively rolled out in 25 countries and over 3 million people have so far been trained in mental health first aid skills.

Mental Health First Aid is the initial help offered to a person who is developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate professional support is received or until the crises resolves. Participants in the training programme learn how to recognise when someone is experiencing a mental health problem and through a framework of communication, how to offer and provide initial help. They learn how to support a person to engage with appropriate professional care or other supportive help.

The Mental Health First Aid training programme has been extensively evaluated and found in research studies to be effective by improving mental health literacy, improving people’s confidence to provide help, increasing helping behaviours and reducing stigma. In Ireland, MHFA training is delivered to a variety of public groups, workplaces and communities. 

*Approximately 1 in 5 Irish people will experience a diagnosable mental health difficulty in any given year. Many people experience mental health problems for a long time before seeking help and don’t see that people can and do recover from a mental health problem.

Mental Health First Aid training is available to everyone via courses that are run throughout the country, exclusively by Mental Health First Aid Ireland through a team of over 40 instructors. 

This achievement also falls on the eve of World Mental Health Day 2019, themed ‘Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention’. The goal of this year’s international campaign is to inform the public that every member of society can play a role in supporting those experiencing mental health difficulties, challenging the stigma and that people can be empowered to take action to promote mental health. Learning how to respond to someone when they are developing mental health problems can be done by learning how to provide basic mental health first aid.

Leading the programme in Ireland is Donal Scanlan, Mental Health First Aid Ireland Manager. Speaking about the milestone number of people trained in Ireland, Donal said, “Most people don’t just suddenly become unwell, but it may just suddenly become apparent to those surrounding the individual. If we could all learn the skills to be able to notice earlier and offer support, hope and a listening ear then it would be hugely beneficial. Our training empowers people in communities and workplaces to develop the knowledge and skills to recognise when a friend, colleague or family member is experiencing a mental health problem and how to effectively support them which can ultimately encourage and promote their recovery. Workplaces have been particularly receptive to the MHFA training as it offers robust, evidence-based training with tangible skills for the participants to take away and feel more confidence in offering support. We have delivered our training in a variety of workplaces and communities such as An Garda Síochána, Defence Forces, the construction industry, hospitality services, financial, legal and consultancy services and we even have our instructors embedded in the European Parliament. MHFA is delivered as part of the undergraduate curriculum to all pharmacy students at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.”

“We look forward to growing the numbers trained to over 10,000 next year, with refresher courses, mental health awareness sessions and MHFA Youth and Teen courses happening alongside our workplace and adult courses.”

For further information, please visit



About Mental Health First Aid


MHFA is a not for profit programme developed in Australia by Betty Kitchener, a nurse and educator who herself has experienced periods of severe mental ill-health and her husband Prof. Anthony Jorm, an internationally renowned researcher working at the School of Population and Global Health in the University of Melbourne.  The MHFA programme has now spread to 27 countries and has been incorporated into national mental health policy in many.

Mental Health First Aid Ireland is a Department of Saint John of God Hospital the licence holder for MHFA in Ireland.  Saint John of God Hospital CLG is a not-for profit, independent provider of mental health services.  In May 2014 the Hospital signed a Memorandum of Understanding with MHFA Australia to adapt the course for Ireland and in October 2014 Betty Kitchener came to Saint John of God Hospital to advise on the roll out of the MHFA Ireland Programme.

The work of MHFA Ireland is overseen by Manager Donal Scanlan and the National Training Team who advises on strategy and support instructor training. The programme is governed currently by Saint John of God Hospital CLG, led by CEO Emma Balmaine and Clinical Director Dr Richard Blennerhassett.

For more information on how this could be rolled out in your workplace, organisation or community or to register for a place on our public courses, please log on to or call 01 277 14 58.

Who is it for?

Mental health first aid is for everyone. We all have mental health just like we all have physical health.  Mental Health First Aid will typically be offered by someone who is not a mental health professional, but rather by someone in the person’s social network (such as family, friend or work colleague) or someone working in a human service occupation e.g. Teachers, Gardaí, line managers, HR personnel, Pharmacists, Prison Officers or Solicitors. The potential list is endless. 

Why is it important?

  • Mental health problems are common
  • Many people with mental health problems delay seeking help or do not seek help at all
  • Many people aren’t well informed about how to recognise mental health problems
  • Many people don’t know how to respond to a person experiencing a mental health difficulty
  • Professional help is not always immediately at hand
  • The more we talk about mental health the less stigma there will be

The MHFA course has been shown to help people grow in confidence, learn new skills and even help their own mental health, all the while challenging the stigma surrounding mental health in Ireland.

Course Evaluation

Click here for further information





Aoife Ní Mhurchú (Head of HR – Sky Ireland)

“A key focus of our Health & Well-being Strategy in Sky Ireland is Mental Health Education.  We decided to appoint a cross functional/cross level team of Mental Health Ambassadors and engaged with Donal and his team in Mental Health First Aid Ireland to deliver in-house MHFA training to this new team. The feedback was fantastic with the consistent theme that they all came away from the two-day course with significant improvement in their confidence and ability to support a colleague (or indeed friend of family member) who are experience a mental health challenge. They also were educated on how to signpost an individual to the appropriate professional support service also as the course covered in detail the boundaries required when providing support. As it was delivered in-house, we had the opportunity to tailor the scenarios discussed to be really applicable to our environment and there was plenty of time allowed for discussion which was invaluable to the learning experience. I would wholeheartedly recommend the mental health first aid course to organisations that are passionate about creating a safe and supportive culture for all.”


Bethany Fiore, CSR Manager, William Fry

“We were introduced to Mental Health First Aid Ireland at an Ibec KeepWell Mark event and I knew right away that this was something we wanted to offer our staff. Mental health and wellbeing are important to us at William Fry and critical for the legal industry. The MHFA course equipped our staff with the tools to assist their colleagues and to bring greater awareness to the importance of mental health in the workplace. The course was so well received that we are already planning to have another group of staff trained and to roll out training for our team managers as well.”


*  Research carried out by The Psychiatric Epidemiology Research across the Lifespan (PERL) Group, led by Professor Mary Cannon.