Program Description

Mental Health First Aid® is an 8­-hour national certification course that is designed to teach the layperson the skills to recognize the signs of a mental health or substance use disorder crisis, identify community resources, and link individuals in need of treatment and support to the proper resources. An in­person skills­based course, you will learn a 5­ step action plan that can be used to help those in need.

The 5-step action plan, ALGEE, includes:

Assess for risk of suicide or harm
Listen nonjudgmentally
Give reassurance and information
Encourage appropriate professional help
Encourage self-­help and other support strategies

There are two versions of the Mental Health First Aid course: Core (Adult) Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid.

Core (Adult) Mental Health First Aid® Course

Core (Adult) Mental Health First Aid training builds skills to help adults age 18 and older who may be experiencing a mental health problem or crisis. The core program teaches the signs and symptoms a person may experience with common mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, psychosis and substance use as well as risk factors for each. The core program is available in both English and Spanish.

Population­-specific modules are available for the core Mental Health First Aid program. Modules are intended to blend with the current 8­-hour core Mental Health First Aid program providing more targeted information to the population that is being defined. Core course modules include:

  • Older Adult: Mental health concerns may manifest differently later in life, than with younger adults. The Older Adult module highlights some of these differences a person might see for an older adult and how best to help.
  • Veterans: Veterans may experience mental health problems unique to the situations they have experienced. This module is for veterans, those who work with veterans and family members to help them understand what signs and symptoms they may see and the resources that are available to this population.
  • Higher Education: The Higher Education module focuses on the issues that are particular to the college population. College is a time of transition, when a young person may experience mental health problems for the first time. This module helps students, faculty and staff learn the warning signs and ways to help which are distinctive to this population.
  • Public Safety: The Public Safety module is designed for those who work in fields such as law enforcement, corrections and public safety to better understand how mental health issues may show up in their work with the public, and the best way to respond when the crisis involves mental health.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Course

The Youth Mental Health First Aid course is designed for adults who work with youth ages 12-­17. The Youth program teaches signs and symptoms of emerging mental health problems and how to differentiate potential problems from typical adolescent development. The Youth Mental Health First Aid course is available in both English and Spanish.

Instructor Training Course

Bring Mental Health First Aid to your organization or community by certifying as an instructor. Using a train-the-trainer model, the five-day instructor training course fully prepares you to teach either the core or youth course — and you don’t have to be a mental health clinician. You’ll see the program in action, explore the support and technical assistance available to instructors, and learn from mentors and peers. Already an instructor? Consider becoming dually certified to teach both the core and youth courses. Learn more.