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Creating Your Own Sustainable Mental Health First Aid Program
A mental health first aid instructor teaches students

As an Adult/Youth Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Instructor, you can empower your community to be the difference for those experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. Being an Instructor is immensely rewarding. It’s also quite a bit of work. Whether you’re an independent Instructor or you’re offering MHFA on behalf of an organization, creating a sustainable MHFA program in your community requires a plan — one that will afford you or your organization the resources to invest in the growth of your program. This is especially important if you’re an independent Instructor, figuring out how to compensate yourself for all your efforts.

The National Council for Mental Wellbeing is here to help you along the way. Join one of our monthly webinars to learn about the requirements, pricing and what to consider before enrolling to become a MHFA Instructor. In this article, we’ll explore some tips to keep in mind when building your MHFA delivery strategy.

Setting Course Prices

MHFA Instructors set their own price for the MHFA courses they offer. While the cost to Instructors can be between $18.95 to $23.95 per seat (depending on whether you’re teaching an in-person or blended course), you should account for your incurred costs when setting the price for your learners. This includes the initial cost of earning your Instructor certification, which can range between $2,000 to $2,200. After accounting for your own time, marketing costs, rented space and the materials you purchase to offer the course, the value to the learner can be as much as $170 per seat. This flexible pricing model allows Instructors to strategically position their prices to best serve their target audience and market.

Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Pricing: Research your market and target audience to set competitive yet profitable prices. For instance, you can look at the Find-a-Course tool to see what other Instructors in your area are charging for the courses you’re offering.
  • Value proposition: Emphasize the value participants gain from the course to explain your pricing. Course benefits include learning to support loved ones, three-year certification and creating meaningful experiences.
  • Tiered pricing: Consider offering different packages or course levels to cater to varying budgets and offer flexibility. Options may include in-person classes — which are face-to-face with an Instructor — or blended courses that combine self-paced and Instructor-led content. To learn more about course types, explore the glossary at the bottom of this page.
  • Funding opportunities: There are federal and state grants available, as well as funding from philanthropic groups. These resources can help you get started:

Managing Expenses

Teaching MHFA doesn’t demand extensive ongoing costs, especially for blended delivery. You can reduce your expenses for in-person courses by finding free or low-cost spaces to hold classes, and some organizations might offer materials for printing, which could also cut down on costs.

Pro tip: Create a budget to track your expenses. (Here are 10 expense trackers and seven free small business budget templates you can choose from.) This should include costs for course materials, marketing and certifications (which could be tax write-offs!). By doing this, you can determine if you are making a profit.

Finding Consistent Teaching Opportunities

Profitability hinges on teaching regularly, and you must teach at least three MHFA courses annually to maintain your Instructor certification. It’s helpful to cultivate a network of reliable clients and establish a niche market. Strong ties with local organizations and causes can be instrumental in sustained success, ensuring a steady flow of clients and opportunities for collaboration and growth. Effective networking, branding and marketing become invaluable tools in the long term.

Here are a few ways you can reach new audiences:

  • Networking: Build relationships with local organizations, schools, businesses and health care facilities for ongoing teaching opportunities.
  • Specialization: Identify a niche market (e.g., corporate training, schools) that can be a consistent source of clientele. Achieving Instructor designation in MHFA’s community-specific courses allows you to tailor your teaching to the community around you.
  • Community involvement: Participate in local events, seminars and initiatives related to mental wellbeing to establish a visible presence.
  • Partnerships: Collaborate with community organizations and local leaders for mutual benefit and sustained referrals.

Balancing Market Saturation and Participant Diversification

Striking a balance between people trained and people yet to become trained is key. While maintaining a consistent client base is important, expanding your audience reach ensures that you always have a flow of participants joining your class. For example, working with colleges provides new students to train in MHFA year after year.

Consider these methods to tap into new markets:

  • To expand your audience, focus on different groups instead of overwhelming one specific market.
  • Look for new customers or communities that are not being served currently.

Becoming a MHFA Instructor offers a path to support yourself while supporting others, but it requires strategic planning, dedication and community engagement. Creating a plan can help Instructors navigate the complexities of pricing, teaching opportunities, market diversity, community engagement and aligning financial goals with impactful objectives.

As a MHFA Instructor, you can empower others to understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges. And you’ll join a community of thousands of Instructors who have collectively trained over 3 million First Aiders nationwide.

Not an Instructor but interested in becoming one?

Join one of our monthly webinars to learn about the requirements, pricing and what to consider before enrolling to become a MHFA Instructor. Together, we can make a difference by training every 1 in 15 people to address mental health and substance use challenges within their circles. Register today and #BeTheDifference.

In-person course: Face-to-face Instructor-led training that does not require self-paced pre-work.

Blended course: Used broadly to describe MHFA courses that include both self-paced and Instructor-led content.

  • Blended, with in-person Instructor-led training — Use only when necessary to indicate that the Instructor-led portion of a blended course is taught in person.
  • Blended, with virtual Instructor-led training — Use only when necessary to indicate that the Instructor-led portion of a blended course is taught by videoconference; otherwise, use “blended course.”

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