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

Older Adults Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid for Older Adults iconWant to better understand mental illness, learn how to help someone experiencing a crisis and possibly save a life?

Take a Older Adults Mental Health First Aid for class!

What is Older Adults Mental Health First Aid?

Older Adults Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an 8-hour training course designed for adults – family members, caregivers, nursing staff, health and human services workers, etc. – who interact with people over the age of 65. The program gives community members key skills to help an older person 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 for Older Adults.

Ready to take a class?

Course Content

Developing mental health problems covered:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Traumatic events
  • Psychosis
  • Substance abuse
  • Unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in older adults

Mental health crises covered:

  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Non-suicidal self-injury
  • Panic attacks
  • Severe psychotic episodes
  • Effects from substance and alcohol use
  • Aggressive behavior

Participants will learn the signs and symptoms of these mental health problems in older adults, where and how to get help and what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective.

Older Adults MHFA Outcomes

Individuals trained in the program:

  • Increase their knowledge of signs, symptoms and risk factors of mental illnesses and addictions in older adults.
  • Can identify multiple types of professional and self-help resources for older adults with a mental illness or addiction.
  • Have more confidence that they can and are more likely to help older adults who are in distress.
  • Better understand the impact mental illnesses have on an older adult, their family, and communities.
  • Help to reduce stigma associated with mental illnesses.
  • Show increased mental wellness themselves.

Got more questions about Older Adults MHFA?

Read the Frequently Asked Questions about Mental Health First Aid, email CSBMHFA@fairfaxcounty.gov, or call 703-559-3000.


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 or to request this information in an alternate format, call 703-538-3215, TTY 711. Please allow two weeks’ notice to arrange ADA accommodations.


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