Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an evidence-based public education and certification program that improves mental health literacy and teaches basic skills to help someone experiencing a mental health problem or crisis and connects them to professional care. During the 12 hour interactive training the individuals who participate and complete the course become certified in MHFA and are aware of the 5-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care.

The training addresses the risk factors and warning signs of specific illnesses such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance use disorders, and eating disorders. The program covers symptoms, causes and evidence-based treatments for depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis, and substance abuse.

“Early detection and treatment can make all the difference in the world to the individual suffering from mental illness and to their family. The program has helped reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and has changed people’s minds in the community about mental illness. People often start the class viewing individuals with mental illness in a negative light, but finish the training seeing the individual as a person, not their illness.” - Sharon Beals, CEO of TBHS.

The MHFA training addresses possible crisis situations arising from mental health problems and offers ways to work with individuals. Crisis situations could include a person who is feeling suicidal, a person having a panic attack, a person who has had a recent traumatic experience or a person who is acutely psychotic and perceived to be threatening violence. The program is disseminated by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

Since Mental Health First Aid was first introduced in the United States in 2008, more than 20,000 people have been trained and a network of 1,350 individuals that have been trained as certified instructors for MHFA.

First aid training is widespread throughout the world to give members of the public skills to help an injured person before medical help arrives. But most first aid courses typically teach little or nothing about helping people with mental health issues. The course does not qualify persons to be a counselor, just as a conventional first aid course does not qualify someone to be a doctor or a nurse. It is designed to provide initial help before mental health services is sought.

The Mental Health First Aid course has benefited a variety of audiences and key professions, including: primary care professionals, employers and business leaders, faith communities, school personnel and educators, state police and corrections officers, nursing home staff, mental health authorities, state policymakers, volunteers, young people, families and the general public.

If you would like further information on how to have this training provided to your community group or staff members, please contact Susan Holder, Director of Marketing and Training at Tuscola Behavioral Health Systems, at 989.673.6191 or 800.462.6814. For further information on Mental Health First Aid visit: