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Mental Health First Aid

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is a groundbreaking public education program that helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Mental Health First Aid USA is managed, operated, and disseminated by two national authorities — the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

Mental Health First Aid is offered in the form of an interactive 8-hour course that presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders in the U.S. and introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments.


There are two courses available – Adult and Youth.

Both the adult and youth courses offer:

  • Hands-on activities and practice
  • ALGEE, the 5-step action plan
  • An overview of local mental health resources, support groups, and other help
  • A resource manual packed with information on all topics covered in the course

The Adult Mental Health First Aid course is for those 18 and older who want to learn who to help someone in a mental health crisis or dealing with mental health issues. It covers anxiety, depression, psychosis, and addictions. The adult course is available in both English and Spanish.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid course is best for parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders.

The 8-hour Mental Health First Aid USA course has benefited a variety of audiences and key professions, including: primary care professionals, employers and business leaders, faith communities, school personnel and educators, state police and corrections officers, nursing home staff, mental health authorities, state policymakers, volunteers, young people, families and the general public.

See how you can get involved — find an 8-hour Mental Health First Aid course near you or learn how you can become a certified instructor to teach the 8-hour course in your community.

Visit Mental Health First Aid USA for more information.

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