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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Mental Health First Aid

By Darren Stones

The Mental Health First Aid course is designed to train members of the public to provide help to people who are developing mental health problems and require assistance in crisis situations. The course is not designed to train people to provide diagnoses and on-going professional treatment.

Delivery of the Standard course is over 12 hours, with four topics each comprising three hours.

Topics include:
  • Depression
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Substance Use Disorders
People undertaking the course are instructed to provide mental first aid to people who may be:
  • Suicidal
  • Having a panic attack
  • Recently experienced a traumatic event
  • Threatening behaviour
  • Drug overdosing
A range of studies, including randomised controlled trials, have shown that Mental Health First Aid training improves knowledge, reduces stigmatising attitudes, and increases first aid actions towards people with mental health problems.

The course has spread internationally and is now is taught in Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, USA and Wales.

Each country that implements the course, adapts it to suit their culture and health system. Information is disseminated in a manner best suited to local conditions.

The Mental Health First Aid training course was created in Canberra in 2001 by Betty Kitchener and Tony Jorm. In 2009 there were over 850 accredited instructors covering every state and territory in Australia.

The program is auspiced by the Orygen Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne.

Further information:

Mental Health First Aid

Information sourced from:

Mental Health First Aid Manual Second Edition
Mental Health First Aid website

I have enrolled in the Standard course to be conducted in July 2011 at Docklands in Melbourne. Instructor is Joe Zammit, Mental Health Practitioner and Mental Health Trainer at Norwood Association.

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Darren Stones