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F is for First Aid

Author: null null Published: 9th September 2012 17:33

First Aid boxMental Health First Aid (MHFA) was originally developed in Australia in 2000 as a response to the general lack of understanding about mental ill-health, and the associated stigma and discrimination. The aim of all first aid is to preserve life and promote recovery. Mental Health First Aid teaches people how to give initial care, and helps dispel fears that people often have if they come across someone in mental distress. Urgent situations could include threats of suicide, self harming, panic attacks or apparent disassociation from reality and other people.

In recent years, Mental Health First Aid training courses have been introduced in many areas of the UK as part of public health initiatives, and the impact has been widely evaluated.

The training courses cover areas such as:

  • How to respond if you believe someone is at risk of suicide
  • How to give immediate help until professional help is available
  • What to say and do in a crisis
  • Listening and responding skills
  • Understanding recovery
  • Basic information about common mental health problems

In Australia, evaluation studies have shown significant benefits in the months after training with improved confidence about helping others and decreased ‘social distance' from people with mental health difficulties,. One randomised controlled trial carried out in the workplace found positive effects on the participants own mental health.[1]

In Wales, Mental Health First Aid courses have been funded by the Welsh Assembly since 2008. Research carried out by the mental health charity Mind and the University of Glamorgan suggested that:

  • 96% of people felt confident or better prepared to help a person experiencing mental distress after the course.

  • 65% of people had used the skills they learnt on the course on at least one occasion.

  • 88% of people had either tried to raise awareness of mental health issues in their workplace as a result of the training or will do so when the opportunity arises.[2]


[1] http://www.harp-project.org/projects/project_mhfa_about.php


For more information about good mental health, click here



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