Skip to main menu Skip to content


Frequently Asked Questions



What is Mental Health First Aid?
Mental Health First Aid is a course that teaches the skills needed to recognize and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges, as well as how to provide someone with initial support until they are connected with appropriate professional help. The evidence behind the program demonstrates that it builds mental health literacy, helping the public identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness.
What do people learn in a Mental Health First Aid course?
Mental Health First Aid teaches the skills needed to recognize and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges, as well as how to provide someone with initial support until they are connected with appropriate professional help.

This evidence-based, early-intervention course uses community-specific scenarios, activities and videos to help you be prepared to provide support to those in need in your community. Participants learn a 5-step Action Plan (ALGEE), which includes assessing risk, respectfully listening to and supporting the individual in need, and identifying appropriate professional help and other support.

What types of topics are covered?
Topics covered include depression and mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, psychosis and substance use disorders. Trainees are taught how to apply the 5-step action plan in a variety of situations such as helping someone through a panic attack, engaging with someone who may be suicidal, or assisting an individual who has overdosed. An important component of the Mental Health First Aid course is the opportunity to practice the intervention strategy rather than to just learn about it. This simple experience can make it easier to actually apply the knowledge in a real-life situation. Read more on these strategies.
How do I find a Mental Health First Aid course near me?
Search for courses near you here. If you are looking for a course from a particular organization or want to specify a course type, then you can filter the results using those additional search criteria.
If I’m already trained in Mental Health First Aid, what can I do next?
We hope you will use your training to help those around you who may be struggling with a mental health or substance use issue. You can also become a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor and help spread Mental Health First Aid across the country. Read more.
How does an organization become an official Mental Health First Aid partner?
If your organization is interested in becoming a MHFA strategic partner, please email us at
Can MHFA be used as a replacement for professional help? 
MHFA should not be considered a replacement for professional help. MHFA is designed to support an individual in need of help until appropriate professional help arrives. Mental Health First Aiders learn the 5-step MHFA Action Plan known as ALGEE, which includes assessing risk, respectfully listening to and supporting the individual in crisis, and identifying appropriate professional help, which may include licensed counselors, primary care physicians, social workers or psychiatrists.
Is MHFA a substance use recovery program?
While MHFA can play an important role in early intervention, it is not a substance use recovery program. Early intervention, a critical tool for recovery, refers to recognizing the warning signs of a mental health or substance use challenge and acting before it gets worse. Lack of treatment may stem from stigma associated with mental health, lack of access to care, or simply not knowing where to go for help.
Do Mental Health First Aiders or MHFA Instructors diagnose or provide therapy after becoming certified?
No. Mental Health First Aiders and Instructors should not diagnose or provide therapy when operating in either of these capacities. Only a trained and licensed mental health professional can diagnose someone with a mental illness. First Aiders and Instructors can be aware of changes in a person’s mood, behavior, energy or habits, and provide a bridge to appropriate help. With their additional certification, an Instructors’ primary role is to teach the MHFA course with fidelity to the core program and key messages, including fidelity to systems and course reporting by MHFA USA.
Does MHFA force people to self-disclose mental health or substance use challenges?
MHFA does not force people to self-disclose mental health or substance use challenges. Instead, MHFA can help lessen a person’s fear and hesitation about starting conversations with others about mental health and substance use. A typical course shows individuals how to recognize the signs of a problem and gives them the tools and language to help.
What is the role of parents and guardians in teen Mental Health First Aid?
We provide teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) sites with several resources to inform parents and guardians about the program and how they can reach out to someone at the school or organization if they have questions or concerns. Instructors are encouraged to offer parent and guardian informational sessions before teens take the training and send informational letters home that describe the tMHFA course’s learning objectives. All parents and guardians have the opportunity to opt their child out of taking the tMHFA course.
How can I learn more about Mental Health First Aid USA?
For additional information, click here to contact us.


Where did Mental Health First Aid start?
Mental Health First Aid was created in Australia in 2001 by Betty Kitchener, a nurse specializing in health education, and Tony Jorm, a respected mental health literacy professor. More information on the history of the course is available at Mental Health First Aid™ Australia.
Which countries have Mental Health First Aid?
The United States is just one of many countries that have adapted the program from the original Australian program. Check out the latest map of countries with the program and news from these countries at Mental Health First Aid International.
Have individuals who have experienced a mental illness or addiction contributed to the development of Mental Health First Aid?
Yes. In fact, one of the original founders of the program in Australia is in recovery from depression. Here in the U.S., we continually consult with people living with mental illnesses and addictions to ensure the program content accurately reflects their experiences and perspectives. Additionally, a significant portion of certified instructors are in recovery from a mental illness or addiction.
Is there evidence to support the effectiveness of the program?
Yes. Peer reviewed studies from Australia and across the globe show that the program improves the mental health of both the individual administering care and the one receiving it, expands knowledge of mental health challenges and their treatments, increases the services provided and reduces overall stigma toward individuals with mental health or substance use challenges by improving mental health literacy. One trial of 301 randomized participants found that those who trained in Mental Health First Aid have greater confidence in providing help to others, greater likelihood of advising people to seek professional help, improved concordance with health professionals about treatments, and decreased stigmatizing attitudes. For further evidence supporting Mental Health First Aid, please see the Evaluation section of Mental Health First Aid™ Australia’s website.


Who operates Mental Health First Aid in the U.S.?
The National Council for Mental Wellbeing operates Mental Health First Aid USA in partnership with the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
What is the vision for Mental Health First Aid in the US?
Our vision is to train 1 out of every 15 people in America in Mental Health First Aid, ensuring that everyone has a close friend they can turn to when experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge.
Search for courses