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Research Shows: Mental Health First Aid Works

More than 3 million people have been trained in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). That is cause for celebration! Of course, we are thrilled that our community of First Aiders is growing. But we measure success in more than numbers.

MHFA has one clear and simple goal: to give individuals the skills to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use crisis.

Good news … it’s working!

Over the past decade, more than 45 peer-reviewed studies have documented the efficacy of MHFA among various populations across the United States.

Studies show that individuals trained in Adult MHFA have:

  • Increased mental health literacy, including knowing the signs, symptoms and risk factors of mental health and substance use challenges.
  • The ability to identify multiple types of professional and self-help resources for individuals with a mental health or substance use challenge.
  • Increased confidence/self-efficacy and likelihood to help an individual in distress.
  • Reduced stigma and increased empathy toward individuals with mental health challenges.
  • Increased likelihood to seek therapy or mental health care for themselves.
  • Correct application of MHFA skills during a simulation.

Individuals trained in Youth MHFA show similar acquisition of skills. And research shows that young people participating in teen MHFA trainings acquire:

  • Increased mental health literacy.
  • Increased identification of helpful and harmful behaviors when assisting a person in need.
  • Decreased mental health stigma.

MHFA is just one piece — but an important one — in a much larger effort to connect people in need with mental health and substance use care. While other initiatives seek to reduce the prevalence of mental illness or improve access to high-quality treatment and services, MHFA is focused on expanding people’s ability to recognize and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges.  We believe this is an essential first step — among many — toward a healthier nation.

If you are already a First Aider — thank you for making a difference. And if you want to join us, we’re ready to connect you with a training today. We want everyone in America to have at least one First Aider in their close circle of friends, family and peers.

That’s why we are setting our sights on a new goal — training 1 in every 15 people in MHFA. Will you join us and be the difference? Hint: say YES!

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