Mental Health First Aid

mental health first aid iconLearn how to identify a possible mental health crisis and respond calmly and confidently by becoming certified in Mental Health First Aid. LifeWays is proud to offer Mental Health First Aid courses to our communities free of charge.

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour, in-person training from the National Council for Behavioral Health that teaches the average community member how to help someone in a mental health crisis or experiencing symptoms of mental illness.

During the training, you will learn how to identify the different signs and symptoms of mental illnesses and how to connect people to care. 

LifeWays’ certified instructors provide Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid courses year-round as part of our community outreach and prevention efforts. Our instructors are also available to provide specialized courses for audiences such as:

  • Military Members, Veterans, and Their Families
  • Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Public Safety
  • Fire & EMS
  • Higher Education
  • Older Adults and Those Dealing with Later-Life Issues
  • Rural Communities

For more information about the Mental Health First Aid program, you can visit or call 517.789.2490. Click here to download the Mental Health Education Brochure.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mental Health First Aid

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour, in-person training that teaches you how to help friends, family, students, and co-workers who are experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis. LifeWays’ certified instructors provide trainings for anyone 18 and older who can help adults or youth. Learn How To:

  • Help someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge
  • Identify, understand and respond to signs of addictions and mental illnesses
  • Respond calmly and confidently and connect people to care

Where did Mental Health First Aid start?

Mental Health First Aid was created in Australia in 2001 by Professor Tony Jorm, a respected mental health literacy professor, and Betty Kitchener, a nurse specializing in health education. The program is auspiced at the ORYGEN Research Center at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Who should take Mental Health First Aid?

Adult Mental Health First Aid is intended for a variety of audiences: friends and family of individuals with mental illness or addiction, key professionals (such as police officers, human resource directors and primary care workers), school and college leadership, faith communities, or anyone interested in learning more about mental illness and addiction. The core program is tailored for response to the general adult population.

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed for adults who regularly interacts with youth – teachers, athletic coaches, mentors, juvenile justice professionals. The core Mental Health First Aid course has been successfully offered to a variety of audiences including hospital staff, employers and business leaders, faith communities, law enforcement, and the general public.

How do I register?

Click on one of the listed training dates above to register for this free training. If you need help call us at 517.789.2490.

I heard this training is interactive. What should I wear?

We try our very best to make this course as interactive as possible, so we encourage you to dress casually. It's also a good idea to dress in layers, as Michigan weather can often lead to unpredictable heating and cooling.

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Can we schedule a course on-site at my place of business, just for our staff?

Absolutely. If you can get at least 10 people together we can come to you anywhere in JAckson or Hillsdale County.  LifeWays has provided on-site courses in Mental Health First Aid at Jackson College, Orthopaedic Rehab Specialist and the Jackson County Animal Shelter, for example. If you're interested in bringing Mental Health First Aid to your workplace or community organization, please call 517.789.2490 or email us for availability. 

Have consumers of mental health services contributed to the Mental Health First Aid USA course content?

Yes. In fact, one of the original founders of the program in Australia is a consumer. Here in the United States, the National Council continually consults with mental health consumers to ensure the program content accurately reflects consumer experiences and perspectives. Consumers have maintained an active voice in focus groups, aided development of the training manual, and offered invaluable feedback on the program content itself. Additionally, a number of our certified instructors are mental health consumers themselves.

Is there research to support the effectiveness of this program?

Yes, in fact, the strong evidence base is the very reason the National Council selected this particular program. Five published studies in Australia show that the program saves lives, improves the mental health of the individual administering care and the one receiving it, expands knowledge of mental illnesses and their treatments, increases the services provided and reduces overall stigma by improving mental health literacy. One trial of 301 randomized participants found that those who trained in Mental Health First Aid have greater confidence in providing help to others, greater likelihood of advising people to seek professional help, improved concordance with health professionals about treatments, and decreased stigmatizing attitudes. Unexpectedly, the study also found that Mental Health First Aid improved the mental health of the participants themselves.

For further evidence supporting the implementation of Mental Health First Aid, please see the Evaluation section of the Australian Mental Health First Aid website.

Who are the instructors?

All Mental Health First Aid instructors obtain certification to conduct the 8-hour program by completing a five-day instructor certification programs available throughout the year by the National Council for Behavioral Health. Instructors must meet general criteria around knowledge of mental health/addictions and posses the ability to communicate and transfer knowledge effectively.

LifeWays' Mental Health First Aid instructors have been certified and actively instructing since July 2009.

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Are there CEUs approved for this course?

Both Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid courses are approved for 8 Continuing Education (CE) Hours by the Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative and is recognized by the State of Michigan, Department of Community Health, Licensing Division for Social Work. 

In addition, the Adult Mental Health First Aid course is approved for 8 General Recertification Credit Hours by the Society of Human Resource Management's HR Certification Institute. These hours relate to the Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR) certifications. 

How do I bring Mental Health First Aid to my community?

MHFA-USA envisions that Mental Health First Aid will become as common as CPR and First Aid training during the next decade. MHFA-USA certifies community providers to implement Mental Health First Aid in communities throughout the United Sates. Each Mental Health First Aid site develops individualized plans to reach their communities, but all deliver the core 8-hour program and each participating site undergoes tight credentialing to guarantee fidelity to the original, tested model, while also maintaining the flexibility necessary to reach its unique citizens’ needs and demographics.

To find a mental health first aid training provider near you, click here for an interactive, searchable map of all of the active training locations.

Want to bring Mental Health First Aid on-site at your agency? Send us an email for more information.

What will I learn?

Just as CPR training helps an average person with no clinical training to assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training helps an average person to assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis, such as contemplating suicide. In both situations, the goal is to help support an individual until appropriate professional help arrives.

Mental Health First Aiders learn a single 5-step strategy called ALGEE:

 The Mental Health First Aid Action Plan

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm

  • Listen nonjudgmentally

  • Give reassurance and Information

  • Encourage appropriate professional help

  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

Participants are also introduced to risk factors and warning signs for mental health or substance use problems, engage in interactive activities that build understanding of the impact of illness on individuals and families; and learn about evidence-supported treatment and self-help strategies.

Trainees are taught how to apply the 5-step strategy in a variety of situations, such as helping someone through a panic attack, engaging with someone who may be suicidal, or assisting an individual who has overdosed. An important component of the Mental Health First Aid training is the opportunity to practice the intervention strategy rather than to just learn about it. This simple experience can make it easier to actually apply the knowledge in a real-life situation.

What is the difference between Mental Health First Aid and the other courses like it (e.g., ASIST, safeTALK, QPR, etc.)?

Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that helps you identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The course was developed for a general adult audience and is appropriate for both professionals and laypersons wishing to have an introduction to mental health and substance use concerns. The course differs from its peer programs in multiple ways. Click here for more on what you learn in Mental Health First Aid.

Who is ALGEE?

You’ve seen him around, you’ve heard about him on the news (hey, he was just on NPR ), but who is ALGEE? 

ALGEE’s more than just a cute face – he’s the Mental Health First Aid mascot. His name is also the mnemonic for the five-step action plan taught in Mental Health First Aid.

More than 1 million people across the United States have taken the Mental Health First Aid course and learned how to use ALGEE to help individuals showing signs of a mental illness or in a mental health crisis until appropriate professional help, or peer and family support, can be engaged. Join the over 1 million trainees and register for an upcoming course near you today!

The Mental Health First Aid Action Plan:  

  •    Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  •    Listen nonjudgmentally
  •    Give reassurance and information
  •    Encourage appropriate professional help
  •    Encourage self-help and other support strategies







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