Mental Health First Aid (Armed Forces)


The Armed Forces Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a two-day course.

Course material includes responding to a mental health crisis and information about the most common mental health problems.

Participants develop skills in asking appropriate questions, listening without judgement and giving guidance about where help can be found.

This course is only offered by MHFA England.

What are the Aims of MHFA?

The aims of the MHFA course are:

  • To preserve life.
  • To provide help to prevent the mental health problem or crisis developing into a more serious state.
  • To promote the recovery of good mental health.
  • To provide comfort to a person experiencing distress.
  • To promote understanding of mental health issues.

The course will give you the knowledge to apply these aims in a real life situation.

Why Take The Course?

This course is designed for everyone.

There are five good reasons to attend MHFA:

  1. An in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that affect well-being for the armed forces community.
  2. Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues.
  3. Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress.
  4. Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening.
  5. Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support – whether that is self-help resources, through the MOD, the NHS, support charities, or a mix.

Mental Health problems are not as frightening as most people think.

When a person has a mental health problem what they need most is someone who can:

  • Listen calmly to their feelings and fears;
  • Give some simple information; and
  • Tell them where to get appropriate help.

This course is for everyone, and participants use the skills they learn in all settings.

Who Can Attend?

Places on the course are restricted to serving and ex-serving personnel, their family members, and support services who work with the armed forces community.

Course Format

  • Two day face-to-face course across four manageable sessions.
  • Learning takes place through a mix of presentations, group discussions, and workshop activities.
  • Each session is built around a MHFA action plan.

Course Content

Topics covered during the course include:

  • Guidance on being a Mental Health First Aider.
  • Attitudes to mental health issues.
  • Equalities.
  • The recovery message.
  • The impact of alcohol and drugs on mental health.
  • Introduction to suicide intervention.
  • Listening skills.
  • Understanding depression.
  • How to offer first aid to someone experiencing depression.
  • Understanding anxiety.
  • How to offer first aid to someone experiencing anxiety.
  • Understanding psychosis.
  • How to offer first aid to someone experiencing a psychotic episode.
  • Session 01:
    • Why MHFA for the armed forces community?
    • Military culture.
    • What is mental health?
    • Stigma and discrimination.
    • Mental health issues – violence and the criminal justice system.
    • The five steps of Mental Health First Aid.
  • Session 02:
    • Suicide.
    • Non-judgemental listening skills.
    • Crisis first aid for suicidal behaviour.
    • First aid for depression.
    • Signs and symptoms of depression.
    • Actions for suicidal behaviour and depression.
    • Treatment and resources for depression.
    • Self-care.
    • Vicarious trauma and burnout.
  • Session 03:
    • Self-harm.
    • Eating disorders.
    • Treatment and resources for self-harm and eating disorders.
    • What is psychosis?
    • Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder.
    • Symptoms and risk factors for psychosis.
    • Crisis first aid for acute psychosis.
    • Treatment and resources for psychosis.
  • Session 04:
    • What is anxiety?
    • When is anxiety a problem?
    • Signs and symptoms of anxiety.
    • Alcohol, drugs and anxiety disorders.
    • The impact of trauma.
    • Post traumatic stress disorder.
    • Crisis first aid for panic attacks.
    • Crisis first aid for acute stress reaction.
    • Recovery.
    • Action planning for using MHFA.

What Does the Course Not Do?

The course does not train people to be mental health workers.

It offers basic general information about mental health problems.

The knowledge presented and understanding developed in the course helps to remove stigma and fear and to give confidence in approaching a person in distress.

MHFA is an initial response to distress and all participants on the course understand that this help is given only until other suitable or professional help can be found.


You will get a certificate of attendance and a colourful and interesting manual to take away with you at the end so that you can remind yourself of what you have learned.

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