12 Reasons everyone should learn Mental Health First Aid

Before answering that question, have you ever taken a physical first-aid course? Most of us would answer yes, or at least, you may be aware of its benefits in the workplace. The critical first moments at the start of physical distress is a matter of life and death for some people. Knowing what to do until professional help arrives is worth its weight in gold.

The Mental Health First Aid program offers the same principle; the desire to save lives. It does this through education. First-aid for panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, psychosis or depression have different steps. Knowing what to do will increase your confidence and make you invaluable in any setting.

The standard course runs for 12 hours over two days. Those 12 hours could save you, your company and community ill-health as well as wealth. The National Mental Health Commission published alarming statistics in 2016. They discovered a link between the mental well-being of Australians and economic growth. The cost to the nation is about $4000 for every taxpayer and more than $60 billion. That's a high economic burden. The Mental Health First Aid program aims to reduce that a step at a time.

Here are twelve of its benefits:

1. Mindfulness

In Australia, it's estimated that 1 in 5 people (20%) has experienced a mental health disorder in the previous 12 months. The most common of these are anxiety, depression and substance use disorders. MHFA training helps develop mindfulness skills. You'll become aware of people around you and what to do at the moment when dealing with a mental health issue.

2. Engagement

Engagement encourages people to be other-centric and to develop their emotional intelligence. MHFA requires concern, care and compassion for others. This develops engagement and engagement enhances teamwork as well as community interest.

3. Newness

MHFA training has been around for the last ten years and yet there is a perception that it's relatively new. That's OK...learning something new has positive effects on your brain! It helps you adapt to change, provides a sense of accomplishment, can keep dementia at bay and helps you to have a confident mindset.

4. Time Management

So many people comment that they simply don't have time to study or take on anything new. The late Jim Rohn has a marvellous quote; work harder on yourself than you do your job. The more you improve, the greater your health and wealth. The MHFA course helps you to understand different states of mind. It may even bring your attention to a pending mental health issue. Identifying this early is what it's all about. In the long run, you'll end up saving time (and money).

5. Awareness

Becoming aware of self and others hasn't a destination; it's a learning journey. In the program, not only will you become aware of what you can and can't do with a presenting mental health issue, but you'll also become more knowledgeable about:

* mental health problems in Australia

* mental health first aid skills

* depression

* anxiety

* psychosis

* substance-use problems

* gambling problems

* eating disorders

* mental health crises such as suicidal behaviours.

6. Listening skills

Becoming a Mental Health First Aider develops your listening skills. It's a vital step in helping an individual with a mental health problem. The course will provide scenarios for you to practise those skills in depth.

7. Health Promotion

Although we are talking about mental health, it's more about holistic health. Poor mental health can negatively impact on physical health, leading to an increased risk of some conditions. Poor physical health can also be a reason for poor mental health. Keep in mind that it's not about diagnosis; it's about detecting issues early to get the professional help that's needed.

8. Expression

There are few settings to voice your opinion about mental health issues. Within the structure of the MHFA course, you'll be able to express yourself and share your concerns in a safe environment. There is still a stigma associated with mental health issues. MHFA training aims to break down this stigma.

9. Attention

Neil Postman, author of amuzing ourselves to death, believed that modern technologies are reducing people’s attention span. The standard MHFA course is a face-face program. You'll meet people, conduct relevant activities and increase your attention span by being in a classroom format.

10. Leading

It takes vision to become a good leader. If you are in a position of leadership, then you'll be sensitive to the emerging trends in our society. Mental Health First Aiders may not be in every workplace now but what of the future? Taking the lead shows initiative, drive and vision.

11. Tax

Tax can be defined as contribution, cost, duty and savings. There are financial savings related to identifying and managing mental health issues early on. Yet, it's also worthwhile to consider our contribution to one-another as a community. Someone's suffering bears a cost to society as a whole. Learning MHFA principles is but a small price to pay to help ease this burden.

12. Humility

MHFA is not about diagnosing mental health illnesses. It's about noting the initial signs in someone and helping that person seek professional help. It's about humility and breaking the wall of shame that surrounds so many from seeking help. The longer someone waits to get professional help, the worse conditions may get and the more expensive the treatments.


MHFA certification lasts for three years although you can also do the course without certification. The course is something Australia ought to be proud of. It was created in Canberra by Betty Kitchener, an educator, in partnership with Tony Jorm, a mental-health researcher. The program is spreading due largely to the evidence-based course content. Already, over 2 million people have trained internationally. It's definitely a program that's worth its weight in gold.


1. Mental Health Commission - mentalhealthcommission.gov.au

2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare - aihw.gov.au

3. Learning Solutions Online Magazine - learningsolutionsmag.com

4. Mental Health First Aid Australia - mhfa.com.au

5. Mental Health First Aid Manual Kitchener, Jorm & Kelly, 4th Edition

Veronica Strangio

Veronica Strangio helps people attain their Standard MHFA certification. She is dedicated to promoting holistic well-being and educating people about mental health. If you're interested in completing this 12 hour course, contact her today.