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Our Vision

Our vision is a community where everyone has the first aid skills to support people with mental health problems.

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide high quality, evidence-based mental health first aid education to everyone.

Our Structure

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Australia is a national not-for-profit health promotion charity focused on mental health training and research. MHFA Australia operates under the governance of a Board of Directors and derives funding from government and philanthropic grants, public donations and through its training programs.

Our Founding History

Whilst people often know a lot about common physical health problems, there is widespread ignorance of mental health. Regular first aid courses are recognised as improving the public's skills in giving initial and appropriate help at medical emergencies but, unfortunately, most of these courses do not address helping with mental health problems. However, mental health problems are common. In Australia, approximately one in five adults will experience mental illness in any given year. In light of this, all members of the community can expect to have close contact with someone experiencing a mental illness.

Lack of knowledge and stigmatising attitudes about mental illness may prevent people from seeking help early, seeking the best sort of help and also providing appropriate support to colleagues and family members, simply because they do not know how.

In 2000, in order to improve the level of mental health literacy of the community, a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training course was developed by husband and wife team Betty Kitchener AM and Professor Tony Jorm, following the model that has been successfully applied in many countries with conventional first aid. Since this time, MHFA training has spread to every state and territory in Australia and internationally, currently to over 20 other countries (more info on international MHFA Programs here). More information on our impact here. View publications on mental health literacy here.

The founders of MHFA hope that MHFA becomes a mandatory certification for certain professions and roles, as physical first aid is. This will ensure that the skills to assist people with mental health problems will spread beyond mental health professionals, and that the program will fulfil its aim of contributing towards improved support, early detection and treatment of mental health problems and reducing the stigma attached to mental illness.

Our purpose symbolised in the flannel flower - promoting mental health awareness

Our purpose is symbolised by the flannel flower featured in the MHFA Australia logo. The flannel flower, an Australian native, is the national symbol to promote mental health awareness in Australia (see Mental Health Australia for more info). This flower, along with all native Australian plants, needs to be adaptable and enduring in order to survive the extremes of weather and landscape in the Australian bush. In the same way, all of us develop resilience and the ability to adapt to change, in order to maintain good mental health. Positive and inclusive attitudes towards people with mental health problems can assist in the recovery of people living with mental illness.

Tick of Charity Registration

Mental Health First Australia is listed on the ACNC’s register and has met the ACNC’s legal meaning of being a charity and other requirements by law. Learn more about The ACNC Tick of Charity Registration here.

Our Annual Reports