Mental Health First Aid
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a course that teaches participants to recognize, understand and respond to individuals displaying signs of mental illness or substance use disorders. This course provides education on how to offer initial support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance abuse issue. More than 1 million people across the United States have been educated in Mental Health First Aid.
This education program originated in Australia and studies performed there show that individuals who have completed this training increase their knowledge of signs, symptoms and risk factors of mental illness and addictions. Participants are also able to identify multiple types of professional and self-help resources for individuals in need and are more likely to help someone they have identified as needing assistance. After completing the education, participants also show increased mental wellness themselves.
Topics covered in this education include:
- Depression and mood disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Substance use disorders
According to the Mental Health First Aid website, “Mental Health First Aid teaches about recovery and resiliency – the belief that individuals experiencing these challenges can and do get better, and use their strengths to stay well.”
Memorial Health System offers education in both adult- and youth-focused courses. The Adult MHFA course is appropriate for anyone 18 years and older who wants to learn how to help a person who may be experiencing a mental-health-related crisis or problem. Attendees will be able to assess for risk of suicide or self-harm, listen non-judgmentally, give reassurance and provide information, encourage appropriate professional help and encourage self-help, along with other support strategies.
Youth MHFA is designed to teach family, educators, community members and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis.
While a large portion of Mental Health First Aid is about identifying those already in crisis or experiencing a mental illness, it also covers prevention and how to maintain mental health after something traumatic or a significant life transition utilizing self-care and other techniques.