703-383-8500 TTY 711
8221 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive
Fairfax, Virginia 22031
Daryl Washington
Executive Director

Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety Frequently Asked Questions

Icon for MHFA for Public Safety Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) for Public Safety is an 8-hour training course designed to give public safety personnel key skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The training helps participants better understand mental illnesses and provides various options for responding to mental health-related calls appropriately by deescalating incidents without compromising safety.

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.

Ready to take a class?

Law enforcement, Sheriff’s Office staff, corrections officers, security officers, 911 dispatch staff, parole and probation staff, warrant officers, juvenile justice staff, and reentry program staff. Not sure? Just ask us!

Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety is a good complement to Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. CIT training is an in-depth, 40-hour program with widespread adoption across the country. MHFA for Public Safety is an 8-hour course for staff who are not yet CIT certified. Some departments use Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety as training for newer officers as well as a first step for those who express interest in joining the CIT team.

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 for Public Safety training provides the opportunity to practice the intervention strategy rather than to just hear about it.

The class fee is $25 per person which covers materials. Fairfax County Government employees may attend free of charge.

Email CSBMHFA@fairfaxcounty.gov or call 703-559-3000.

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