Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Just as physical first aid is administered to a person before medical treatment can be obtained, MHFA is given until appropriate treatment is found or until the crisis is resolved.
The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training course was developed to help people provide initial support to someone who may be developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.
Some mental health problems are more common than many physical health problems. While people often know a lot about physical illness, more people have little knowledge about mental illness. This lack of understanding promotes fear and stigma. It prevents people from seeing help early and seeking the most effective help. It also keeps people from providing appropriate support to friends, family members and people around them simply because they do not know how.
MHFA Canada teaches mental health first aid skills. This course does not train people to be therapists, counselors or mental health professionals. The philosophy behind MHFA Canada is that mental health crises, such as suicidal and self-harming actions, may be avoided through early intervention. If crises do arise, then members of the public can take action that may reduce the harm that could result.
CMHA offers both MHFA:Basic and Seniors workshops.
Most mental disorders develop gradually. The early signs and symptoms of developing mental health problems will be different from the more established clinical profiles which are reflected later in life. The social, educational and family environments in which mental disorders occur in young people are also different later in life. Therefor, the information provided in this course is designed to be sensitive to the unique aspects of mental health problems in young people. It is meant to assist educational professionals, health providers, parents and other adults in the identification of mental health problems and appropriate first aid intervention strategies. Early identification can help improve the lives of young people across Canada.
Canada has an aging population. As of July 1, 2015, there were more people aged 65 years and older in Canada than children under the age of 15 years. The likelihood of experiencing a mental health problem or illness in a given year increases as of age 69 and currently, men aged 80 and older have the highest suicide rates in Canada.
MHFA Seniors is an adaptation of the MHFA Basic course that is intended to increase the capacity of seniors, families (informal caregivers), friends, staff in care settings and communities to promote mental health in seniors, prevent mental illness and suicide wherever possible in seniors and intervene early when problems first emerge.