Mental Health First Aid


Tools to support struggling mental health

If someone sprains their ankle, chances are you will know what to do. If someone has a panic attack, chances are you won't.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a comprehensive program of the Mental Health Commission of Canada that gives you the skills to provide early intervention to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Just as physical first aid is administered to an injured person before medical treatment can be obtained, MHFA is given until appropriate treatment is found or until the crisis is resolved.

​Participants will learn:

  • The most common mental health illnesses and crises, including identifying signs and symptoms

  • The steps to support an individual having a mental health crisis

  • Effective interventions and treatments for mental illness

  • How to help a person in crisis get the professional help they need

Why take the MHFA course?

If you interact with a population that has a high percentage of mental health challenges, or that are in high-stress situations that may trigger a mental health crisis, this is an important course to equip yourself.

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Taking a mental health course such as MHFA reduces the social distance between yourself and the person experiencing a mental health problem.

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One in five people will experience a mental health problem. MHFA increases your understanding of signs and symptoms so the person can receive help.

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MHFA gives you confidence to engage someone who is experiencing a mental health challenge and teaches you what to say to be compassionate and helpful.


Course Contents

MHFA Basic is designed to equip adults to interact with adults who are having a mental health problem. Participants who take this course are well prepared to interact confidently about mental health with their family, friends, communities, and workplaces.

Course Contents:

  1. Mental Health and Stigma

  2. Substance related disorders

  3. Mood related disorders

  4. Anxiety and trauma-related disorders

  5. Psychotic disorders

Crisis first aid skills learned for the following scenarios:

  • Substance overdose

  • Suicidal behaviour

  • Panic attack

  • Acute stress reaction

  • Psychotic episode

5 basic actions of ALGEE:

ALGEE is the framework for having a confident conversation about mental health with family, friends, colleagues, and strangers.

  • Assess the risk of suicide and/or harm

  • Listen non-judgmentally

  • Give reassurance

  • Encourage professional support

  • Encourage other supports


About the Mental Health Commission of Canada


The Mental Health First Aid course was developed in 2001 by Australians Betty Kitchener and Anthony Jorm. It was brought to Canada in 2006 by the Alberta Mental Health Board where it was adapted for Canadian context. In 2010 it becomes a national program across Canada