Mental Health First Aid USA


Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that introduces participants to risk factors and 

warning signs of mental illnesses, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common 

supports. This 8-hour course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to offer initial help 

in a mental health crisis and connect persons to the appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help 

care. The program also teaches the common risk factors and warning signs of specific types of illnesses, 

like anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.  Mental 

Health First Aid is included on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 

National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).


Like CPR, Mental Health First Aid prepares participants to interact with a person in crisis and connect the 

person with help. First Aiders do not take on the role of professionals — they do not diagnose or provide 

any counseling or therapy. Instead, the program offers concrete tools and answers key questions, like 

“what do I do?” and “where can someone find help?” Certified Mental Health First Aid instructors 

provide a list of community healthcare providers and national resources, support groups, and online 

tools for mental health and addictions treatment and support. All trainees receive a program manual to 

compliment the course material.




Family members and personnel working with military and families are often not aware of how to engage 

veterans with mental illnesses and addictions. In addition to the impact of military service on the 

veteran, each has a circle of family (significant other, children, parents, siblings, etc.) and friends who 

are also impacted by their military service.   


Mental Health First Aid offers a simple, proven combination of information and techniques for effective 

interventions. A tailored module builds upon the effectiveness of the standard Mental Health First Aid 

curriculum by focusing on the unique experiences and needs of the military, veteran and family