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Mental Health First Aid​

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing a mental health crisis, or a worsening of their mental health. More than 500,000 Canadians have been trained since 2007.

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About MHFA

Mental Health First Aid is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing the worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. Just like physical first aid is provided until medical treatment can be obtained, MHFA is given until appropriate support is found or until the crisis is resolved.

Why Take an MHFA Course?

There is stigma associated with mental health problems. Evidence shows that taking an MHFA courses reduces social distance between the participant and someone experiencing a mental health problem. worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. Just like physical first aid is provided until medical treatment can be obtained, MHFA is given until appropriate support is found or until the crisis is resolved.

One person in five will experience a mental health problem this year. Evidence shows that MHFA course participants increase their awareness of signs and symptoms of the most common mental health problems.

The most difficult part of intervening is knowing what to say. Evidence shows that taking an MHFA course increases the confidence participants have in engaging someone experiencing a mental health problem or crisis.

Featured Case Studies

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Course Descriptions

9 hours
3 sections
8-15 group size
English, French

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is the support provided to a person who may be experiencing a decline in their mental well-being or a mental health crisis. The Mental Health Commission of Canada reports that one in every five Canadians experiences a mental health problem within a given year. While we often know a lot about physical illness, there tends to be less knowledge about mental health or substance use problems. This lack of understanding leads to fear and negative attitudes towards individuals living with these problems. It prevents people from seeking help for themselves and from providing appropriate support to people around them.

10 hours
3 sections
8-15 group size
English, French

MHFA for the Veteran Community is tailored to address the needs of Veterans and the people who care for, and about, them. Participants will vary, but all will have some connection to the Veteran community, such as: Veterans themselves, former RCMP members, family members, friends, relatives, health professionals, providers of Veteran services, volunteers and other caring community members.

10 hours
3 sections
8-15 group size
English, French

Mental health and substance use disorders often start in adolescence or early adulthood. When these disorders start at this stage in life, they can affect the young person’s education, movement into occupational roles, forming of key social relationships and of healthy habits related to eating, sleeping, and substance use.  This is why it is so important to detect problems early and ensure the person is properly supported.

10 hours
3 sections
8-15 group size
English, French

The course is designed for people who have frequent contact with older adults, for example, family members, friends, public and private caregivers, community health workers, and volunteers.

12 hours
5 sections
8-25 group size
English, French

MHFA Basic is intended for adults interacting with adults (18 years and older). This course focuses on the four most common mental health disorders including substance related, mood related, anxiety and trauma related, and psychotic disorders. Participants who take this course are well prepared to interact confidently about mental health with their family, friends, communities, and workplaces.

14 hours
6 sections
8-25 group size
English, French
MHFA Adults who Interact with Youth is intended for an adult audience whose primary focus is youth (aged 14-25). In addition to the four most common disorders discussed in MHFA BASIC, this course includes instruction about eating disorders and deliberate self-injury. Participants who take this course are well prepared to interact confidently about mental health with the young people in their lives, including at schools, extra-curricular activities, social services, family, friends, and communities.
20 hours
8 sections
8-25 group size
English, French

Mental Health First Aid First Nations is a spark that awakens the courage to have open and honest conversations about mental health with family, friends, and others. It is part of a larger journey that helps strengthen the connections within communities.

The MHFA First Nations course is intended for First Nations however, is also recommended for anyone that works with First Nations. This course can be delivered wherever there is a need, such as a First Nations community, urban organization, rural and remote. It is especially important to note this is not a culturally competency or cultural sensitivity course. It is expected that anyone who takes the MHFA First Nations course will already have an existing and ongoing relationship with First Nations people and communities. It is designed to provide an opportunity for First Nations participants and others who work with First Nations to learn and have serious conversations about mental health and wellness. Participants will reflect on their life experiences, acknowledge the historical context of the colonization of Canada and move forward to address and explore ways to restore balance on a journey to mental health and wellness.

18 hours
8 sections
5-25 group size
English

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Inuit is a course designed by Inuit, for Inuit and for those who work with Inuit. The three-day course encourages people across Inuit Nunangat to have conversations about mental wellness with family, friends, and colleagues. Addressing the stigma associated with mental health and wellness can be challenging, MHFA Inuit provides a foundation from which participants have an opportunity to learn from their own people in a culturally safe, and competent environment.

MHFA Inuit is delivered by two facilitators to ensure cultural competency. Namely:
• Inuit Nunangat is made up of unique communities with majority Inuit populations
• Community supports are different in each region
• Inuit realities, culture and language can vary depending on community and region

18 hours
7 sections
5-25 group size
English

The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Canada Northern Peoples course is guided by a number of important principles such as respect, cooperation, resilience, community, harmony, generosity and resourcefulness. Many of these values are used to guide Aboriginal ways of living. All of these values are considered important and many are interconnected with one another. This course was designed to respect the importance of holism and balance. That means that the whole person – mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual parts of a person – must be considered when providing mental health first aid. It also means that for someone to be healthy, all of those parts must be in balance.

9 hours
5 sections
8-25 group size
English

MHFA Police is an adaptation of the MHFA Basic course that is tailored to the needs of police. MHFA Police focuses on improving police interactions where mental health may be an issue. Participants build the knowledge, skills, and confidence to respond effectively to someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue or crisis.

The course is intended for police officers engaging with the public. It is for both uniform and civilian members of police services across Canada.

MHFA Police was developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) in collaboration with police officers and mental health experts from across Canada.

14 hours
8 sections
8-25 group size
English, French

Canada has an aging population. As of July 1, 2015, there were more people aged 65 years and older in Canada than children under the age of 15 years. The likelihood of experiencing a mental health problem or illness in a given year increases as of age 69 and currently, men aged 80 and older have the highest suicide rates in Canada.

MHFA Seniors is an adaptation of the MHFA Basic course that is intended to increase the capacity of seniors, families (informal caregivers), friends, staff in care settings and communities to promote mental health in seniors, prevent mental illness and suicide wherever possible in seniors and intervene early when problems first emerge.

The course content and resource materials are based on best available evidence and practice guidelines and were developed in consultation with Canadian experts in the field of geriatric psychiatry. The curriculum was developed for the Mental Health Commission of Canada at Trillium Health Partners, a healthcare organizations which priorities seniors’ health and wellness.

13 hours
4 sections
8-25 group size
English, French

Studies of the mental health of Canadian Veterans show that, although the majority were doing well, a number suffer from mental health problems that affect their functioning, wellbeing, and utilization of health and rehabilitation services.

The MHFA Veteran Community course was developed through: funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs; input from a number of stakeholders including veterans, veterans organizations and Veterans Affairs Canada; and, pilot testing. Its goal is to improve our collective capacity to recognize and assist with addictions, as well as mental health problems and illnesses, by supporting Veterans in the application of evidence-based practices in service delivery, the workplace and personal interactions.

MHFA for the Veteran Community is tailored to address the needs of Veterans and the people who care for, and about, them. Participants will vary, but all will have some connection to the Veteran community, such as: Veterans themselves, former RCMP members, family members, friends, relatives, health professionals, providers of Veteran services, volunteers and other caring community members.

The course is being funded by Veterans Affairs Canada and is offered at no cost to members of the Veteran community.

MHFA Blogs

Several months ago, I had the opportunity to participate in Mental Health First Aid training for the first time. It was an eye-opening experience that really made me look inward...
We know these past 4 months have been unusual to say the least. We have all reacted to the worldwide pandemic in our own way, doing the best we can every single day.
A lot of the time when I’m delivering mental health training, people tend to forget or overlook their mental health, because they think it doesn’t affect them.

MHFA Case Studies

Founded in 1983 in Canada, nabs is a unique charity specifically designed to support the health and well-being of all individuals in the media, marketing, and communications industry in Canada.
In 2018, Loblaw started working on being more proactive by providing store managers with the tools they need to respond to mental health crises in the workplace.
“Since the completion of the training, we are now seeing our units being more proactive in initiating discussions and understanding what community resources are available to further support our co-workers.”