MHFA training is a short course in mental health. It aims to clear up a lot of common myths about mental illness. Course participants gain a better understanding of different mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, trauma, psychosis and challenges related to alcohol and other drugs. Furthermore, participants learn how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Mental Health First Aid teaches about recovery and resilience – the belief that individuals experiencing these challenges can and do get better and use their strengths to stay well.
A Mental Health First Aider in the workplace is a point of contact for an employee who is experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. This interaction could range from having an initial conversation through to supporting the person to get appropriate help. Embedding MHFA training within any organisation or community encourages people to talk more freely about mental health, reduces stigma and creates a more positive culture. In the United Kingdom, Mental Health First Aid training has taken place in 20,000 workplaces and those organisations have seen reductions of up to 75% in referrals for common mental health issues (MHFA, UK).
Although people living with mental illnesses often need ongoing treatment, during a crisis, having someone with basic mental health skills nearby can make a huge difference. Receiving this training helps to create a safety net for the community and the people around you.