What is Mental Health First Aid?

woman with depression holding head in her hands

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, but when it comes to mental health, how aware are you really?

One in four people experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. Whether it was a family member, a friend, a work colleague, or a stranger, would you know what to do to help? Many people are unsure about how to respond to someone who has mental ill health, and they’re afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. But what if you had the knowledge and confidence to recognise a mental health problem, you knew how to respond, and how to help someone recover? This is where Mental Health First Aid can help.

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is an internationally recognised training course which teaches people how to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental illness, and how to listen, reassure, and respond, even in a crisis situation.

What will I learn?

How to recognise the signs of a mental health problem

Some people can function completely well even when they have an enduring mental illness. They hold down a job and can have a relationship and interact socially with others. On the other end of the spectrum though, there’s the people who are constantly absent from work or can’t work, find it hard to maintain relationships, and become withdrawn. Could you spot signs like these in a friend, family member, or colleague?

How to feel confident helping someone who has mental ill health

If you suspect that someone is suffering from a mental health problem, would you be confident enough to help them? You don’t need to be a qualified therapist. Would you feel more comfortable knowing that the most important things you can do for them are to listen, reassure them, and stay calm?

How to stop someone from hurting themselves or others

You might find yourself in a situation with someone who is mentally unwell and is in crisis. Maybe they’ve harmed themselves, they feel suicidal, or they’re putting you or someone else in danger. Would you know when you needed to stay with someone, who you should contact or when you should dial 999?

How to help someone access the support they need 

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Sometimes people who are mentally unwell feel like they don’t know where to turn. Would you know how to help?

Helping them to get the support they need, when they need it is crucial. Whether you help them make a GP appointment, or encourage them to talk to support services like the Samaritans, they’ll get practical help and they won’t feel so hopeless.

How to help tackle the stigma of mental health problems

We know a lot more about mental health now, but the problem of stigma still exists. Whether it’s a work culture that doesn’t encourage talking about mental illness, or the way that people with mental illness are portrayed in the media or on TV, would you know how to tackle it?

Encourage work colleagues to talk about mental health, ask your manager to organise some mental health awareness training, or take time to have a cup of tea with a friend who you know is struggling; every little helps.

Why should I attend a course?

Many research studies have found that Mental Health First Aid Training has had a positive impact on people’s attitudes towards mental health, their awareness of mental health issues, and their confidence and willingness to support others. Mental Health First Aid and other mental health awareness courses also help people to understand that recovery from mental illness is possible, and they also go a long way to remove the stigma attached to being mentally unwell.

If you know how to recognise a mental illness, listen to someone, reassure them, and help them get the right support, it might just help them get help sooner and recover faster.

What you’ll also learn is how to keep yourself mentally well, which is just as important, so there’s a big focus on the prevention of mental illness, not just the cure.

What we offer

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Our new half day Mental Health First Aid Course is an introductory four hour session which aims to raise awareness of mental health. It looks at what mental health is and how to challenge stigma, common mental health problems, looking after your own mental health and wellbeing, and how to support someone who is mentally unwell and might be distressed.

For more information on any of our mental health awareness training courses, click here.


Traincon Learning offer a range of accredited training courses, and we use our 12 years of experience in the Health and Social Care and Public Sectors to help you identify and meet your training needs.

Whether you’re a global company looking for a programme of staff training, or a local charity looking for a one-off training session, we can work with you to deliver the learning your organisation needs.

We’re professional, we’re friendly, and we are so proud of the work we do. We aim to provide every organisation with a high-quality and truly worthwhile learning experience.

Contact us today to find out what we can do for your organisation.

Bridget Woodhead