Mental Health First Aid

One in five Americans struggle with a mental illness.

Yet, more than two-thirds go without treatment. Just as physical health First Aid and CPR training help assist a person experiencing a physical health crisis, Mental Health First Aid training helps a layperson assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis or challenge.


Mental Health First Aid was developed in 2001 in Australia by Professor Tony Jorm, a respected mental health literacy professor, and Betty Kitchener, a nurse specializing in health education. The program was first piloted in the United States in 2008 by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare in order to increase public understanding of these disorders and improve treatment for those affected by them.  Peer-reviewed studies published in Australia show that individuals trained in the program:

  • Grow their knowledge of signs, symptoms, and risk factors of mental illness and addictions
  • Can identify multiple types of professional and self-help resources for individuals with a mental illness or substance use disorder
  • Increase their confidence in and likelihood to help an individual in distress
  • Show increased mental wellness themselves

About the Course

The Mental Health First Aid program is an interactive 8-hour course that can be conducted as one full-day session or two half-day sessions spaced over a short period of time. It introduces participants to:

  • The potential risk factors and warning signs for common mental health disorders
  • An understanding of the prevalence of mental health disorders in the U.S. and the need for reduced stigma in their communities
  • A five-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources and knowledge to assess the situation, select and implement appropriate interventions, and help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional care
  • The appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help resources available to help someone with a mental health challenge

Participants who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Completion. Mental Health First Aid certification must be renewed every three years.

The course can be delivered with a focus on adults or youth. Both courses are 8 hours long, designed for participants 18 years and older, involve hands-on activities, offer an overview of local resources, and provide a resource manual that participants can take with them. For more information on the course types, please click on the dropdowns below.

  • Adult Mental Health First Aid Read more
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid Read more

Please see the National Council’s Mental Health First Aid USA website for more information about the Mental Health First Aid program.

Who should become a Mental Health First Aider?

Everyone can benefit from this program. Specific audiences for each training vary, but include faith communities, educators and educational staff, police and corrections staff, businesses, nursing home staff, mental health support staff, family members, and the general public.

How to Find a Mental Health First Aid Course Near You
One way to find a course near you is to visit the “Find A Course” page on National Council’s Mental Health First Aid USA website. You can browse all available courses, search for courses by location, or find courses by instructor name. If those options are not initially available when you first visit the page, refresh the page. Click “Register” on a course that you would like to register for, and you will be directed to a page with additional details about the course and how to register.

How to Be Re-Certified in Mental Health First Aid
Mental Health First Aid certifications expire three years after successful completion of the 8-hour, in-person course. When your certification expires, you should receive an email with the link to the online re-certification course, but it can also be accessed through National Council’s Mental Health First Aid USA Online Re-Certification website. The course can be completed in 90 minutes or less and costs $29.95. Once you pass the re-certification course, you will automatically receive a new Certificate of Completion that you can download and print.

For more information about the Mental Health First Aid program or to request training, please contact Emily Insalaco, Administrative Training Coordinator at Allegheny HealthChoices, Inc. at 412-325-1100 or at