What is Mental Health First Aid?

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The phrase “Mental Health First Aid” has become more fashionable in recent times, an on trend phrase that has been accepted by today’s society. However, it first came into existence in around the year 2000. 

Mental Health First Aid is in fact a programme that was created in Australia by education specialists and mental health professors, Betty Kitchener & Tony Jorm. Betty was a mental nurse and Tony was a mental health researcher. The mental health researchers wanted to expand upon the traditional physical first aid programme, to consider the required pathway to dealing with and supporting mental health. The idea was to inform and educate in order that we can all feel empowered to deal with mental health issues. This is why the Mental Health First Aid programme was established. 

The evidence based course has been developed in order to improve knowledge, combat stigmatism and increase the actions we can all take towards improving our own mental health, as well as recognising the symptoms and triggers of people with poor mental health. The Mental Health First Aid programme first came to England in 2006 and is now adopted in over 27 countries. 

Today the Mental Health First Aid courses tackle subjects including; depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, psychosis, substance misuse, suicide, self-harm, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder and crisis first aid. 

The course aims to educate and provide opportunities to learn about our own mental health, in order for the delegates to be able to support and empower others. To date, 1 in 85 people in the UK have taken the Mental Health First Aid course and are now able to recognise mental health issues, help and or signpost individuals to obtain the help and assistance they need, in order to thrive. 

This is part of Mental Health First Aid England’s (MHFA) vision of building a society that is accepting of mental health and is equipped with the skills to look after their mental health, as well as the mental health of others. 

“I recently attended a Mental Health First Aid course and not only can I thoroughly recommend it but I would say it is a must for any organisation. I have learnt so much valuable information. I’ve also learnt that the stigma around mental health is one easily lifted and so misplaced.” 

– A delegate from a 2 day MHFA Course

MHFA England has now been delivering training for well over ten years and continues to develop the courses. The multiple courses continue to increase awareness of mental health and provide the knowledge in how to recognise signs of mental ill-health and how to deal with it in greater confidence. Even more importantly, it has opened minds, started the discussion and is actively helping to tackle the stigma of mental ill-health within society. 

I become a mental health first aid instructor for one reason only, to help others, to make a difference to one persons life, whereby they wont have to suffer from poor mental health, my passion is to support and educate people to be the best they can be mentally, to help them build up their mental strength and resilience to allow them to tackle the day to day stresses of daily life. 

Mental Health First Training is so important for a number of reasons, but I particularly love the soft skills that this course enables, the listening skills, the open discussion around stigma and discrimination, but my ultimate delight is that eye widening moment when a delegate “gets it”, the understanding of their previous thoughts and feelings, the light bulb moment and then that feeling that they are not alone and that support is out there.

It’s a stepping stone to building a caring and supportive community and that’s why I cant wait to take more people on this journey of good mental strength.

– Simon Nichols, Founder – Thrive

If you are interested in learning more about Mental Health First Aid or want to learn how to improve your own mental health, then allow yourself to Thrive on one of our upcoming courses. You can even become a Mental Health First Aider or Champion in your workplace. 

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