Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a training course designed to give members of the public the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The evidence behind the program demonstrates that it builds mental health literacy, decreases stigmatizing attitudes, and helps individuals identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness.

Canadian statistics show that one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem this year. MHFA is an interactive workshop that teaches participants to recognize the signs that a person may be developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis and how to provide initial help and guide the person to appropriate professional resources.

There are currently seven versions of MHFA with an additional one in development. At UPEI we offer MHFA - Basic (12-hour duration); however, courses focusing on specific population needs are also available for:

  • Adults who Interact with Youth (14 hours)
  • Northern Peoples (18 hours)
  • First Nations (20 hours)
  • Inuit (3 days)
  • Veteran Community (13 hours)
  • Seniors (14 hours)
  • Police (9 hours)

Individuals interested in these courses should contact the Mental Health Commission of Canada for information on local offerings.

The course addresses four of the most common and most stigmatized mental health disorders and includes signs/symptoms, risk factors, and crisis first aid for specific situations:

Substance-Related Disorders

  • Crisis First Aid for Overdose

Mood-Related Disorders

  • Crisis First Aid for Suicidal Behaviour

Anxiety and Trauma-related Disorders

  • Crisis First Aid for Panic Attack
  • Crisis First Aid for Acute Stress Reaction

Psychotic Disorders

  • Crisis First Aid for Psychotic Episode

Additional sections are included in specific courses:

  • Self-Injury Behaviour (Adults who Interact with Youth, Northern, and Inuit courses)
  • Eating Disorders (Adults who Interact with Youth)
  • Delirium (Seniors)
  • Dementia (Seniors)

MHFA does not teach participants to become therapists or counsellors. Rather, it provides the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that allow someone to offer effective first aid intervention.