Mental Health First Aid
The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, a national trade group with 1,300 member organizations who serve six million Americans nationwide, brought Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) to the United States in 2008 with the goal of making it as common in 10 years as traditional First Aid and CPR are today.
MHFA is an 8-hour training course designed to teach individuals (trainers) methods for assisting someone who may be in the early stages of developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis.
The course provides useful information on how to assist individuals who have a history of mental disorders, longer-term mental health problems, or help identify those developing serious mental health difficulties.
Trainers who complete the 8-hour training program will learn a five-step action plan to:
- Assess a situation,
- Select and implement appropriate interventions, and
- Secure appropriate care for an individual experiencing a mental health problem.
Trainers also learn risk factors and warning signs of mental illness and about available mental health treatments. Upon completion, trainers better understand the impact mental illnesses have on a person, their family, and communities. The National Council, which oversees Mental Health First Aid nationally and credentials trainers, will ensure the U.S. program continues to have a strong empirically-backing by ongoing evaluation in this country.
In August 2011, twenty-seven Division of Student Affairs' faculty and staff from 11 different departments completed the 8-hour training course. In addition, to bring awareness and information of mental health concerns to our diverse campus community, the same 27 individuals also completed an additional 24-hour "train the trainer" course and became certified instructors of MHFA.
When you think of basic first aid, what comes to mind? Many of us carry first aid kits in our cars, or have taken a basic first aid course. Why? Perhaps we want to be prepared to help a loved one in a medical emergency, or perhaps we have an altruistic desire to be of service if a stranger needs assistance. Knowledge and skills serve us well in navigating an emergency and can potentially prevent a medical emergency through early intervention. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) aims to do both: teach members of the public how to respond in a mental health emergency and offer support to someone who appears to be in emotional distress. Swarbrick, P. & Brown, J.K., 2008
For more information on obtaining the 8-hour MHFA training, please contact our Mental Health Education Coordinator, Scheanelle J. Green.