Watford MP Dean Russell has launched his project to train 1,000 mental health first aiders and transform mental wellbeing in the town.

The Mental Health First Aid project has been an initiative the Watford MP has been working on since he first revealed his general election manifesto, and now applications are open to become a trained mental health first aider.

First aiders will be deployed in schools, businesses, and community groups to spot signs of mental health distress, offer support and listen to those in need.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson endorsed this initiative during his surprise visit to Beechfield School, following a public invitation to the launch during a Parliamentary Questions at the Commons in February.

In a video at Beechfield School, Mr Johnson said: “It wasn’t long that the brilliant Dean Russell asked at me at the Prime Minister’s Question Time whether I would come to Watford to help him launch a very important campaign to recruit a thousand first aiders across Watford.

“Here I am, here we are Dean, consider your campaign launched.”

The initiative is a collaborative effort between the MP, Watford & West Herts Chamber of Commerce, Wellspring Church and Cllr Rabi Martins.

Camelot, the Watford based operator of the National Lottery, is funding the initiative with £30,000.

Mr Russell said: “I am delighted to be able to launch this project with the support of the Prime Minister, the Watford & West Herts Chamber of Commerce and so many brilliant local people – not to mention Camelot.

“Transforming the mental health of our town is a personal priority of mine and even though Covid-19 slowed down this initiative, I am so pleased to be able to get it back up and running again.”

Nigel Railton, the CEO of Camelot, said: “Camelot is proud to call Watford home and so we are really pleased to support this important Mental Health First Aider project which will improve the wellbeing of our neighbours. We know first-hand the value of having Mental Health First Aiders, as Camelot has its own in-house team who do an excellent job. That our £30,000 donation will cover the training costs for six people to become instructors for the benefit of Watford’s local community is absolutely brilliant.”

Anyone wishing to participate as a mental health first aider should expect to begin their two-day training course in the New Year.

Participants should expect to begin their two-day training course in the New Year. There will be a fee of £80 per participant (an almost 75 per cent reduction than signing up for the course elsewhere). However, for students, small businesses and people from lower incomes, that fee will be waived. All participants must be a resident or affiliated to the Watford constituency to partake.

To register, visit: https://watfordchamber.co.uk/m-h-f-a-2021-lets-get-trained/​