Mental Health First Aid
Mental Health First Aid is a public education program offered by the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board Wellness and Health Promotion staff that can help communities understand mental illnesses, seek timely intervention, and save lives.
One in five Americans has a mental illness and many are reluctant to seek help or might not know where to turn for care. The symptoms of mental illness can be difficult to detect — even when friends and family of someone who appears to be developing a mental illness can tell that something is amiss, they may not know how to intervene or direct the person to proper treatment. Far too many (up to two-thirds) go without treatment or significantly delay seeking services.
Yet, just as CPR training helps a layperson without medical training assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training helps a layperson assist someone developing or experiencing a mental health problem or crisis.
Mental Health First Aid:
- Introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems,
- Builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and
- Most importantly, teaches individuals how to help someone in crisis or experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge.
Mental Health First Aid uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care.Participants do not learn to diagnose, nor how to provide any therapy or counseling – rather, participants gain concrete tools and answers to key questions like “What can I do?” and “Where can someone find help?” and a core five-step action plan to support someone developing signs and symptoms of mental illness or in an emotional crisis.
Our certified instructors teach the program throughout Fairfax County and cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.
In addition to courses that are available for individual enrollment, you can also request a customized group Mental Health First Aid course.
Mental Health First Aid training for adults is available in both English and Spanish, and the youth training is available in English.
There is a $25 materials fee for these two-day courses (for Fairfax County employees, the LiveWell program covers this fee).
Adult Mental Health First Aid
This interactive 8-hour certification course introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact and gives an overview of common treatments. Specifically, MHFA participants learn:
- Potential risk factors and warning signs for mental health problems, including: depression, anxiety/trauma, psychosis, substance use disorders, and self-injury.
- An understanding of the prevalence of various mental health disorders in the U.S. and the need for reduced stigma in their communities.
- A 5-step action plan to help the individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional care.
- The evidence-based professional, peer, social, and self-help resources available to help someone with a mental health problem.
Adult Mental Health First Aid – Spanish / Para adultos (en español) - Primeros Auxilios para Salud Mental (PASM)
This interactive 12-hour certification course introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact and gives an overview of common treatments. Specifically, MHFA participants learn:
Watch a short video to learn more about Mental Health First Aid. Includes interviews in English and in Spanish.
El curso interactiva de certificación dura 12 horas y presenta a los participantes los factores de riesgo y los signos de advertencia de problemas de salud mental, aumenta la comprensión de su impacto, y resume los tratamientos comunes. En concreto, los participantes del curso aprenden:
Vea un breve video para aprender más acerca de Primeros Auxilios Para la Salud Mental. Incluye entrevistas en inglés y en español.
Youth Mental Health First Aid
The 8-hour certification course is primarily designed for adults – family members, caregivers, school staff, health and human services workers, etc. – who work with young people ages 12-25. It is also appropriate as a peer support program for older adolescents (over age 16). Youth Mental Health First Aid introduces participants to:
- Unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents (ages 12-18).
- Builds understanding of the importance of early intervention.
- Teaches individuals how to help a youth in crisis or experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge.
- Role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect young people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care.
- The importance of protective factors and understanding normal adolescent development.
Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs, services and activities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided upon request. For information, call 703-383-8430, TTY 711. Please allow two weeks’ notice to arrange ADA accommodations. To request this information in an alternate format, call 703-324-7000.
More about Mental Health First Aid
- Read the frequently asked questions about Mental Health First Aid.
- See the schedule and register online for Mental Health First Aid.
- Request a customized group Mental Health First Aid course.
- View the printable Mental Health First Aid flyer in English and Spanish.
- View the printable fact sheet for adult Mental Health First Aid.
- View the printable fact sheet for youth Mental Health First Aid.
- Watch our quick (2 min.) public service announcement on YouTube about Mental Health First Aid! Don't have access to YouTube? Check out the video on Mental Health First Aid here.
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