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Mental Health First Aid

When you hear the words First Aid, it's easy to picture something like the image above - a box filled with supplies to treat physical injuries. However, since we've already established that our mental health is just as important as our physical health, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that mental health first aid is a vital skill to have.

The Mental Health First Aid Program was founded in Australia in 2001 and over the years it has expanded to form a global movement with the training programs now being delivered in 24 countries. 20 years later and over 4 million people have been trained worldwide.

At Rock and Road Training we offer a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course that will give you all the necessary skills you need to become Mental Health First Aider. Our next course is running on the 15th-16th of November. To find out more or book your place click the link below.

Mental Health First Aid is a training course that provides individuals with the knowledge and skills to help a person who:

  • is developing a mental health problem

  • has an existing mental health problem that is worsening

  • is experiencing a mental health crisis

The course is delivered by licensed MHFA instructors and through the course you can learn to identify the signs of mental health problems and develop the confidence and skills to approach and support an individual. The course also helps you learn how to keep yourself safe in these situations so that you are able to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis without putting yourself at risk. What you learn on this course could even help prevent a crisis from happening in the first place.

To give you a better understanding of what the course entails, here are some of the basics of mental health first aid.

  1. Listening non-judgementally. This might seem like a no-brainer but listening non-judgementally doesn't just include not voicing judgement, but also means keeping your facial expressions in control. Reacting in a negative way when someone discloses something can make the individual withdraw from you and this will make it hard to help them. So simply let them speak.

  2. Assess for risk of self-harm or suicide. The course will teach you the proper ways to do this and what to do if you think someone might be at risk. If you believe an individual is at immediate risk of harming themselves or others, the best course of action is to call 999.

  3. Give reassurance and information. Tell the individual that you are there to help them and let them know of the resources they can use for help.

MHFA training will give you the understanding you need to empower an individual to access support - via self-help books, therapy services, support groups and more. Charities such as Mind and Samaritans offer online resources as well as helplines that can be recommended and there are several more charities and medical services that can offer assistance.

To learn more about these options, use the links below:

MHFA England also have great online resources that you can use for free. Their downloadable material includes guidance on remote working and an 'Address Your Stress' toolkit.

Their 'My Whole Self MOT' poster would be a great addition to your workplace as a useful guide on checking in with your own, and others', mental health.

Check them out here!

The advice from the 'My Whole Self MOT' poster is a great way to begin your journey into recognising and acknowledging mental health in your day to day life. Simple tasks such as asking yourself how you feel today, checking in with your stress levels (and whether this is good stress or bad stress) and taking note of any negative thought patterns (I'm not good enough because of...) can help to keep your mental health in a good place and hopefully prevent you from ever experiencing a mental health crisis. Applying these tasks to your friends, family and co-workers can also help them, so take a minute to ask how they are. It can make a world of difference.

If you do become a designated Mental Health First Aider, it is important to continue to check in with your own mental health and know when to step back. As mentioned above, the MHFA training course will help you develop skills to keep yourself safe so that you can carry out your role responsibly. These skills will include:

  • Knowing when and how to set boundaries for yourself and creating your own safe space.

  • Being aware of how to juggle your responsibilities as a Mental Health First Aider with your other roles or jobs.

  • Being able to communicate any concerns about mental health problems in the workplace to an appropriate manager (even if the problem is with your own mental health).

If you read our last blog 'Mental Health Awareness', you might be thinking this sounds just a little similar and you would be right, because Mental Health Awareness is the first step to becoming a Mental Health First Aider.

Take a look at the table below to see the difference between someone who is 'Mental Health Aware' training and a Mental Health First Aider.

Mental Health Aware:

Mental Health First Aider:

Understand why mental health is as important as physical health.

Understand why mental health is as important as physical health.

Support a mentally healthy workplace.

Help build a mentally healthy workplace and understand how Mental Health First Aid fits into the workplace.

Recognise some signs of mental health. distress

Recognise the main symptoms of mental health conditions.

Start a supportive conversation about mental ill health and listen non-judgementally.

Listen non-judgementally.

Guide a person towards appropriate professional support.

Guide a person towards appropriate professional support.


Use 'ALGEE' to provide Mental Health First Aid for the most common mental health conditions.


Provide Mental Health First Aid to those experiencing problems and those in a crisis.

So as you can see, someone who is already 'Mental Health Aware' would make a great choice for a Mental Health First Aider due to the overlap and the MHFA course will provide all the necessary training to provide the rest of the skills.

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