One in five Americans has a mental illness and oftentimes reluctant to seek help or may not know where to find treatment. Family and friends of someone who appears to be struggling with mental illness may not know how to intervene or where to direct them for proper treatment.

Symptoms of mental illnesses can be difficult to detect, and all too often persons in need of mental health services do not receive treatment in a timely manner or may never receive treatment until it is too late. The Mental Health First Aid program was designed to address these issues.  

Adult Mental Health First Aid

Adult Mental Health First Aid (AMHFA) is an 8 hour public course (e.g., teachers, business professionals, law enforcement, medical facilities, etc.) that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental illness and helps them understand the impact of mental illnesses on family, friends, businesses, and society.

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) is an 8 hour course designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents (e.g., teachers, school staff, coaches, youth group leaders, parents, etc.).  The primary focus of YMHFA is to provide information that participants can use to help adolescents and transition-age youth ages 12-18 who may be struggling with mental health issues.

Mental Health First Aid courses teach participants:

  • Knowledge and risk factors of a mental health challenges (e.g., anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, addictions, attention deficit and hyperactivity, psychosis, eating disorders, disruptive behaviors, etc.)
  • Warning signs and symptoms of mental illnesses
  • How to assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • How to approach someone struggling with a mental illness
  • What to do (e.g., listen nonjudgmentally; offer reassurance and support, etc.)
  • How to encourage and direct someone for professional help (i.e., therapy, psychiatry, support groups, etc.)
  • Internet resources.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is coordinated by the National Council for Behavioral Health, the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.  Visit to learn more.


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