Mental health first aid

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Mental health first aid has been defined as "the help offered to a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate professional help is received or until the crisis resolves".[1] Mental health first aid is an extension of the concept of first aid which is familiar with physical health crises to cover mental health. While first aid for physical health crises is a familiar notion in developed countries, conventional first aid training has not generally incorporated mental health problems.


Many people developing mental disorders do not get professional help or delay getting professional help.[2] Someone in their social network who is informed about the options available for professional help can assist the person to get appropriate help. In mental health crises, such as a person feeling suicidal, deliberately harming themselves, having a panic attack or being acutely psychotic, someone with appropriate first aid skills can reduce the risk of the person coming to harm.

History of training[edit]

The extension of first aid training to cover mental health problems and crises is a quite recent development.[3][4] The first mental health first aid training course was developed in Australia by Betty Kitchener and Anthony Jorm in 2001. This training course has now been received by over 2% of the Australian adult population.[5] This form of training has now spread to a number of other countries (Bermuda, Cambodia, Canada, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, United States, Wales).[6][7] By 2015, over one million people had been trained in mental health first aid worldwide.[8]

Research on training[edit]

A number of studies have been carried out showing the people who are trained in mental health first aid showed improved knowledge, confidence, attitudes and helping behaviour. A meta-analysis of data from 15 evaluation studies concluded that mental health first aid training "increases participants' knowledge regarding mental health, decreases their negative attitudes, and increases supportive behaviours toward individuals with mental health problems"[9] There has also been research to develop international guidelines on the best strategies for mental health first aid.[10][11][12][13] Mental health first aid training has been included in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.[14]

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Kitchener, B.A., Jorm, A.F. & Kelly, C.M. (2015). Mental Health First Aid International Manual. Melbourne: Mental Health First Aid International.
  2. ^ Kohn R, Saxena S, Levav I, Saraceno B.The treatment gap in mental health care. Bull World Health Organ 2004; 82: 858-866.
  3. ^ Kitchener BA, Jorm AF. Mental health first aid training for the public: evaluation of effects on knowledge, attitudes and helping behaviour. BMC Psychiatry 2002; 2: 10.
  4. ^ Kitchener BA, Jorm AF. Mental Health First Aid Manual, Melbourne: Mental Health First Aid Australia, 2010.
  5. ^ Mental Health First Aid Australia. "Mental Health First Aid Australia Media Release 6th March 2015" (PDF). Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  6. ^ Kitchener BA, Jorm AF. (2008). Mental health first aid: an international program for early intervention. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 2, 55-61.
  7. ^ Mental Health First Aid International Newsletter, November 2012.
  8. ^ University of Canberra. "Betty Kitchener AM Chancellor's Alumni Award Winner". Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  9. ^ Hadlaczky G, Hökby S, Mkrtchian A, Carli V, Wasserman D. Mental Health First Aid is an effective public health intervention for improving knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour: a meta-analysis. International Review of Psychiatry 2014; 26: 467-475.
  10. ^ Langlands, R.L, Jorm, A.F., Kelly, C.M. & Kitchener, B. (2008). First aid for depression: A Delphi consensus study with consumers, carers and clinicians. Journal of Affective Disorders, 105, 157-165.
  11. ^ Langlands RL, Jorm AF, Kelly CM, Kitchener BA. (2008). First aid recommendations for psychosis: using the Delphi method to gain consensus between mental health consumers, carers and clinicians. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 34, 435-443.
  12. ^ Ross AM, Kelly CM, Jorm AF. Re-development of mental health first aid guidelines for suicidal ideation and behaviour: a Delphi study. BMC Psychiatry 2014; 14: 241.
  13. ^ Ross AM, Kelly CM, Jorm AF. Re-development of mental health first aid guidelines for non-suicidal self-injury: a Delphi study. BMC Psychiatry 2014; 14: 236.
  14. ^ SAMHSA. "Intervention Summary Mental Health First Aid". Retrieved 2 November 2013. 

External links[edit]