Mental health first aid is the help provided to a person who is developing a mental health problem, or who is in a mental health crisis, until appropriate professional treatment is received or the crisis resolves. Mental health first aid strategies are taught in evidence-based training programs authored by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Australia and conducted by accredited MHFA Instructors across Australia.
The 3.5-hour teen MHFA Course teaches high school students in years 10-12, how to provide mental health first aid to their friends. The course was developed in response to research indicating that young people have a preference for sharing problems with peers. The course curriculum is based on a study undertaken to determine the best actions a young person can undertake to support a peer with a mental health problem.
See this Power Point for an overview of the teen MHFA Program
What the course covers
Students learn the teen MHFA Action Plan, as well as information about different types of mental health problems and mental health crisis situations in young people, and the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
Developing mental health problems covered are:
- Anxiety disorders
- Depressive disorders
- Eating disorders
- Alcohol and other drug use disorders
- Psychotic disorders
Mental health crisis situations covered are:
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviours
- Non-suicidal self-injury (sometimes called deliberate self-harm)
- Being very intoxicated from alcohol and other drugs
- Bullying or abuse
Course format and delivery
The delivery format is 3 interactive classroom sessions of 75 minutes each, totalling 3.5 hours. The course has been specifically designed to be engaging for this age group.
Course participants receive a copy of the teen MHFA Manual to keep and a Certificate of Completion.
Who can attend a course?
The teen MHFA Course can only be taught to Year 10-12 students in high schools, which also have Youth MHFA Courses conducted for school staff and parents. The Youth MHFA Course teaches adults how to assist adolescents who are developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis.
Note: This course is not a therapy or support group, rather it is an education course for adolescents to learn how to give mental health first aid to peers.
Finding an Instructor
teen MHFA is rolling out across Australia in 2014. Accredited teen Instructors are listed on our website, click here to find an Instructor. Only accredited Youth MHFA Instructors can become accredited to deliver the teen MHFA Course if they also have experience in teaching high school students. MHFA does not centrally coordinate courses. Contact any of the teen MHFA instructors listed on the Instructor page to arrange a course in your high school. Most instructors are willing to travel but need expenses covered.
What are the benefits?
Prior to the launch of the teen MHFA program, the course was delivered to 1000 year 10 and 12 students across four schools in the greater Melbourne region as part of a pilot evaluation study. This study demonstrated positive benefits - view the summary of findings "
Want more information?
Detailed information for parents, schools and students is available here.
Interested in becoming a teen MHFA Instructor?
Given the requirement that the teen MHFA Program is delivered in schools whereby Youth MHFA is also taught to staff, to get started on your path to becoming a teen MHFA Instructor, you must first become accredited as a Youth MHFA Instructor. View the selection criteria and Upcoming Instructor Training under the ‘Be an Instructor’ menu.
Once you have conducted at least 3 Youth MHFA Courses, you can then apply for the 3-day teen MHFA Instructor Training Course. More info about the teen Instructor Training here.