Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)

One in four Americans lives with a mental health problem each year. Yet, far too many – up to two-thirds – go without treatment.   Just as CPR training helps a layperson without medical training assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training helps a layperson assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis. Background In 2001, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) was created by Professor Tony Jorm, a respected mental health literacy professor, and Betty Kitchener, a nurse specializing in health education and is auspiced at the University of Melbourne. Five published studies in Australia show that the program saves lives, improves the mental health of the individual administering care and the one receiving it, expands knowledge of mental illnesses and their treatments, increases the services provided and reduces overall stigma by improving mental health “literacy”.  For further evidence supporting the implementation of Mental Health First Aid, please see the Australian Mental Health First Aid website:  In order to increase public understanding of these disorders and improve treatment for those affected by them, the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare piloted Mental Health First Aid in 2008.  The program has been replicated in England, Scotland, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, and Singapore in addition to the United States.  About the Course The Mental Health First Aid program is an interactive session which runs 12 hours.  It can be conducted as one two-day seminar, two one day events spaced over a short period of time or as four 3-hour sessions.   Mental Health First Aid certification must be renewed every three years, and introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact and overviews common treatments.  Specifically, participants learn:
  • The potential risk factors and warning signs for a range of mental health problems, including: depression, anxiety/trauma, psychosis and psychotic disorders, eating disorders, substance use disorders, and self-injury
  • An understanding of the prevalence of various mental health disorders in the U.S. and the need for reduced stigma in their communities
  • A 5-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources and knowledge to assess the situation, to select and implement appropriate interventions, and to help the individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional care
  • The appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help resources available to help someone with a mental health problem.
If you are interested in learning about upcoming MHFA training at the Georgia Avenue Family Support Collaborative, please contact James Cunningham  at (202) 722-1815 ext. 285