First Aid for Mental Health?

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association 1 in 3 Canadians will experience a mental health issue at some time in their lives. The earlier a problem is detected and treated, the better the chance of a positive outcome. That’s where Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) comes in. It provides people with the skills to provide the early help that is so important to recovery.

The aim of MHFA is to improve mental health literacy, and to provide the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in family members, friends, colleagues, and others.

MHFA teaches people to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health problems, provide initial help, and guide a person towards appropriate professional help. Still not convinced? Here are some reasons you might consider taking MHFA:

Mental health problems are common – the chances are high that someone in your life may, at some point, deal with a mental health issue.

There is a stigma associated with mental health problems, in part because of lack of knowledge and information.

Many people are not well informed – there are a lot of misconceptions out there about individuals with mental illness. For example, the media often portrays persons with a mental illness as violent and aggressive.

Professional help is not always on hand – therefore the more people who are trained in MHFA, the better chance someone who has the training will be around when needed.

People may lack the insight to realize they need help or that help is available – a first aider is able to share this valuable information.

Members of the general public often do not know how to respond – encountering an individual who is expressing suicidal thoughts, or a psychotic episode can be daunting if one isn’t sure how to handle the situation. MHFA helps by giving information, actions that can be taken, and resources to share.

The MHFA course is 14 hours long (over 2 days typically), and covers topics including drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, psychosis, deliberate self-injury, and suicide. It is engaging and interactive and helps to equip people to deal with mental health crises they may encounter.

Recently the Edmonton Public School Board began offering MHFA to teachers, staff, and some students, as it is becoming more evident how necessary this type of training is. Read more about it at

If you are interested in taking MHFA please contact me and we will set something up.