The objective of having 1000 people in Watford trained as mental health first-aiders is becoming a reality.

The Watford Chamber of Commerce and Watford MP Dean Russell are growing their mental health first-aid scheme, which is being sponsored by Camelot.

Already, more than 100 people in the community have achieved their Level 1 mental health first-aid training.

Chamber apprentice Kia Whittaker said: “It’s already had a massive positive impact, there’s a lot to learn. People think they already know everything about mental health, I did, but the training opens our eyes to all of the signs and symptoms you may not know about or ever even considered.

“To me, the best part is that the trainers aren’t teachers or lecturers. They’re people, talking to people - opening that conversation in a healthy, supportive environment.”

Kia added: “We don’t need to tiptoe around the subject. It isn’t a taboo, it’s reality and it’s so important to talk about it”.

Saffron Johnson, operations director at the Chamber, was recently awarded the One Vision International Women’s Day Wellness Leader of the Year Award for the work she and the Chamber are doing through Watford Wellness.

She said: “The chamber believes that mental wellbeing is a critical issue that faces not just business but our whole community, from young people to the elderly, and everyone in between.

“We introduced Watford Wellness just over a year and a half ago now with the vision to encourage businesses to talk about mental health in the workplace. But, it very quickly morphed into something bigger. 

“Watford Wellness is for everybody. The sessions we run aim to destigmatise mental health and encourage more non-judgmental conversations.”

Saffron continued: “We often don’t realise that’s it’s okay not to be okay. And that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.

“The chamber’s events and Watford Wellness are for the workplace and beyond. They’re for absolutely everyone - because everyone has mental health.”

As part of their efforts to encourage an open discussion around mental health, the Chamber is running an online event called ‘What does mental health mean to you?’.

This will take place on the Remo platform on April 23,at 4.30 pm. If you’d to be involved, go to the events tab on the Chamber’s website at

Kia said: “We’re aware that mental health means different things to different people, so we’ve created this event to discuss just that.”

Lee Keogh, who is an apprentice at the Chamber, is one of the speakers at the event. He said: “Mental health has always been significant to me. Whether it’s you experiencing it or someone you know, just talking about it can make a big difference. 

“It’s also really important to remember that talking about it is only powerful when you feel you’re being listened to. So, be that shoulder for someone to lean on, and make them feel heard.

“I’m looking forward to having the platform to speak about my mental health experience and hopefully smash the stigma to get as many people being open about mental health as possible.”

There’s still time to book a spot at the event at