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Mental Health First Aid is a multi-award winning training program developed by Betty Kitchener, a psychiatrist nurse and Tony Jorm, a researcher at the centre for the Mental Health Research at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

Mental Health First Aid South Africa has been adapted to suit the South African context

MHFA International
The program has been adopted in Wales, USA, Thailand, Sweden, Singapore, Scotland, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Nepal, Japan, Hong Kong, Finland, England, China, Canada and Cambodia.

First aid is the help given to an injured person before medical treatment can be obtained. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)  is a training program that enables a person to recognise and give early help to someone developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate professional treatment is received or until the crisis resolves.

MHFA is a training program accredited with 16 CPD points by the Health Professional Council of South Africa.

MHFA may be delivered by instructors who work independently from the MHFA Program, and which are either working for another organization or running their own business. A 5-day Instructor Training Program accredits suitable candidates to conduct the MHFA training program in their communities or workplaces.

Why mental health first aid?

1 in 3 adults will suffer from a mental health disorder in their lifetime.

Only 25% of people with a mental illness will seek treatment.

Psychiatric conditions rank as the leading cause after back problems of sick absenteeism and illhealth retirement (more than 40% of illhealth retirement).

Approximately 56% of people affected by HIV/AIDS are predisposed to mental health disorders. Prevalence of psychosocial distress amongst individuals affected by HIV/Aids is increasing.

Substance abuse including alcohol use among the teenagers is increasing.

The high levels of financial indebtedness and stress will make the situation worse as noted by increase in suicides.

What are the benefits?

For communities

For employers

  • Preserve life where a person may be a danger to themselves and / or others.
  • Prevent a mental health problem from developing into a serious state.
  • Promote recovery of mental health.
  • Provide comfort to a person suffering from a mental illness.
  • Recognise a mental health problem or crisis.
  • Maintain a balanced life.
  • Reduce family distress.
  • Improve productivity.
  • Reduce ill health absenteeism.
  • Reduce friction at work.
  • Provide a supportive work environment.
  • Reduce employee’s substance use.
  • Improve skills on coaching, guidance and advise for colleagues.
  • Improve skills to mentor subordinates.


Who should attend?

Mental Health First Aid is a training program for any members of the public who are interested to learn about mental health. It is particularly relevant for those who are likely to come into contact with those at risk of mental health problems such as police officers, prison officers, high school teachers, youth workers, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, lawyers, dieticians, security officers, rehabilitation counselors, managers…Mental Health First Aid is not a therapy or support group, and it will not make you a counselor, psychologist, or healthcare worker.

What is the evidence base for the MHFA Training Program?

The program has solid evidence for its effectiveness from randomised controlled trials and qualitative studies. It increases knowledge, reduces stigma and increases supportive actions.