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Beyond the Classroom: How Mental Health First Aid Helps Your Professional Development

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is more than a vital awareness and education training. It’s also a great avenue for professional development. Employees who pursue professional development in their careers reap benefits like higher job satisfaction and productivity — in addition to knowledge that can serve you throughout your career and your life. With MHFA, you may also earn valuable continuing education units (CEU).

We are experiencing a national mental health crisis. An article for Forbes reported 62% of employees say they want leadership to speak openly about mental health, yet only 26% felt any action was being taken to address mental health in the workplace. Learning how to recognize and respond to signs and symptoms that may indicate a mental health or substance use challenge in a colleague or friend will make you a more valuable asset to your organization and your community.

What you need to know

There are many benefits that come with continuing education and professional development. Pursuing continuing education can help provide opportunities for career advancement (think: promotions and raises as you expand your skill set or an advantage over other candidates when looking for a new job). Some employers may even offer reimbursement for your time and expenses for attending a continuing education training like MHFA, particularly if you will receive relevant CEUs in exchange.

CEUs are credits that individuals receive for completing additional study after earning a professional certification. Participating in professional development activities that provide CEUs help people stay on top of new findings and best practices in their field as well as maintain their credentials. Formal CEUs are commonly required for licensed social workers, counselors, emergency medical technicians, nurses, educators and law enforcement professionals, among others. CEUs may be earned by participating in a variety of activities, and whether something qualifies for a CEU or not depends on the unique requirements of each professional certification. A few common ways people pursue professional development and earn CEUs include attending workshops, seminars, tutorials or courses like MHFA.

Applying for CEUs

If you’d like to receive CEUs for a MHFA course, ask your Instructor if the course has been pre-approved for CEUs by any professional or state boards and if not, research and request the necessary documentation so you can file independently.

Requirements vary greatly across states, professions and licensure boards. Some organizations might require you to apply online; some might expect a paper application. The number of approved units for a course can also vary, as can the renewal period. No matter where you apply, application approval will likely depend on things like how applicable the course is to your profession, the instructor’s background or credentials and the rigor of the curriculum.

The first thing you need to do is identify the approval body for your profession (using a search engine like Google can quickly get you where you need to go). A few common national accrediting bodies include:

Lastly, review or request the organization’s application process including how to submit the form, what supporting documents are necessary and if there are application fees.

Once you’ve compiled all the documentation you need and have completed your course, you’re ready to apply! Remember to keep track of your credentials and when they expire so you can plan your continuing education accordingly to avoid a lapse.


Another benefit to professional development and continuing education is that it reminds us that learning is a life-long pursuit and not a means to an end. It can even improve our mental wellbeing. Research shows that commitment to learning improves health, happiness and longevity. As we continue to face today’s unprecedented mental health crisis, it is vital to work toward a more integrated approach to mental health and substance use care. One of the best ways to do so is by increasing mental health literacy through awareness and education trainings like MHFA.

Sign up for a MHFA training today and #BeTheDifference for yourself and those around you. Already a certified First Aider? Consider becoming a MHFA Instructor and help destigmatize mental health and substance use challenges in your community and beyond!


Brodey, D. (2019, Oct. 15). 62% of employees want leadership to speak openly about mental health. Forbes.–openly-about-mental-health/?sh=5528f2b65ac7.

Doyle, A. (2022, Jan. 13). Types of continuing education to advance your career. The Balance Careers.

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