Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an 8-hour training course designed to give community members key skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate professional treatment is received or until the crisis resolves.
The program expands mental health "literacy" and reduces the social distance created by negative attitudes and perceptions of individuals with mental illnesses. The standard course is based on the international MHFA Guidelines and adapted for the U.S. These guidelines were developed using consensus of mental health consumers and professionals.
The Wellness, Health Promotion & Prevention staff of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board is training our County government workforce and our community members in Mental Health First Aid.
Our certified instructors teach six versions of the program throughout Fairfax County and cities of Fairfax and Falls Church:
Mental Health First Aid is intended for a variety of audiences: friends and family of individuals with mental illness or addiction, public safety, businesses and primary care workers, school and college leadership, faith communities, or anyone interested in learning more about mental illness and addiction. Not sure? Just ask us!
Yes, there is strong evidence of outcomes. Mental Health First Aid USA is listed in the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.
Visit the Mental Health First Aid USA website for more information.
The 8-hour class is usually conducted as a two-day seminar (two half-day classes). Certification lasts three years.
A minimum of 15 participants are needed to schedule a class, with a maximum of 25.
Trainees are taught how to apply a 5-step strategy in situations such as helping someone through a panic attack, engaging with someone who may be suicidal, or assisting an individual who has overdosed. Mental Health First Aid training provides the opportunity to practice the intervention strategy rather than to just hear about it. This simple experience can make it easier to actually apply the knowledge in a real-life situation.
The class fee is $25 which covers materials. Fairfax County Government employees may attend free of charge.