What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental health first aid (MHFA), like any other type of first aid, is the help given to a person before appropriate professional help or treatment can be obtained.

First aid of any type has the following aims:

  • To preserve life;
  • To prevent deterioration of any injury or illness;
  • To promote healing; and
  • To provide comfort to the person who is ill, injured, or distressed.

MHFA is the help given to someone experiencing a mental health problem before other help can be accessed.

The aims of MHFA are:

  • To preserve life;
  • To provide help to prevent the worsening of an existing condition;
  • To promote the recovery of good mental health;
  • To provide comfort to a person experiencing distress; and
  • To promote understanding of mental health issues.

MHFA does not teach people to be therapists. However, it does train people in:

  • How to ask about suicide;
  • How to recognise the signs of mental health problems or distress;
  • How to provide initial help; and
  • How to guide a person towards appropriate professional help.

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