What is Mental Health First Aid? - The Mind Map
By Dean Temple

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Gain the skills needed to help someone in distress, and keep yourself well too.

Published 14/07/2021
Mental Health First Aid training courses teach people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health, signpost effectively and listen non-judgmentally.

Mental Health First Aid isn’t intended to train you to be a therapist.

However, the courses will give you the tools to listen, comfort and acknowledge – and even potentially stop a crisis from happening.

You’ll learn to

  • Spot warning signs.
  • Grow the skills and confidence to address and support someone suffering with ill mental health.
  • Keep yourself safe and well.

Alongside physical health everyone has their own mental health too.

It can affect us all at different times & situations throughout our lives.

Mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

Around 450 million people are experience mental health problems right now.

Most recent reports show that over 12 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in just one year.

It’s important that employers are transparent, open and honest about mental health issues.

Mental health first aid builds an understanding of mental health problems and increases the support available to colleagues.

Increasing the understanding of mental health of staff at all levels builds a culture of care and support.

Although mental health awareness & services are definitely improving, there is still a stigma around ill mental health.

As a society, we don’t seem to know how to nurture our mental health like we manage our physical health.

This means that people may not know how to support a friend, family member or co-worker going through a mental health issue.

They may not even know where to go for support with their own mental health struggles.

So what is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is a training course which educates people how to recognise signs, understand and help someone who may be undergoing a mental health issue.

Mental Health First Aid will give you the tools to listen, comfort and acknowledge, even in a crisis – and even potentially stop a critical incident from happening.

You’ll learn to spot warning signs, grow the skills and confidence to address and support someone suffering with ill mental health whilst keeping yourself safe.

  • You can also learn how to motivate someone to approach the support they need for their recovery process o
  • Encourage successful management of symptoms.

This could include self-help books or websites, accessing therapy services through their GP, their school or place of work, online self-referral, support groups, and more.

Furthermore, you’ll gain an understanding of how to support positive wellbeing and tackle the stigma that still exists out there in the world.

Having a qualified Mental Health First Aider in the workplace gives a quick point of contact for an employee who is undergoing a mental health issue or emotional problem.

This interaction could range from having an initial conversation through to supporting the individual to get appropriate help in a crisis.

Mental Health First Aiders are incredibly valuable in providing early support for someone who may be developing a mental health issue.

The duty of the Mental Health First Aider is to support employees in the workplace who are experiencing mental ill health or distress.

This support can vary from having a non-judgmental conversation with a colleague, right through to signposting them towards appropriate support.

The Mental Health First Aider role includes:

●Being able to spot the early signs and symptoms of workplace mental health illnesses

●Having the right skills to have a supportive, non-judgmental conversation with those who need it

●Holding the knowledge and confidence to guide colleagues to the appropriate professional support if its required

●Promoting wider awareness of mental health in the workplace and also reducing stigma.

Courses on offer;


Delivered online, the One Day Adult MHFA Course qualifies you as an Adult MHFA Champion. You’ll then be able to:

● Understand common mental health issues

● Advocate for mental health awareness

●Use skills to support personal wellbeing

● Use skills effectively to spot signs of mental ill health

Delivered over a mix of presentations and workshop activities, there are also discussions to guide learning.

Up to 16 people can participate in the sessions, helping to ensure that the instructor keeps participants safe and supported throughout.


Currently delivered online in four 2.5 hour live sessions with some additional self learning.

Completion of the Adult MHFA Two Day course will qualify you as a Mental Health First Aider.

Once qualified as a Mental Health First Aider, delegates can then:

●Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of mental health and factors that can affect personal wellbeing

●Utilise practical skills to spot the triggers and warning signs of mental ill health

●Confidently approach, reassure, and support an individual in distress

●Utilise enhanced interpersonal skills, such as non-judgemental listening

●Guiding people to support, eg. the NHS, self-help information


The course will provide you with:

●A definition of mental health

A basic understanding of the most common issues surrounding mental health

●Guidance around how to address mental health stigma

●Advice on maintaining your own personal wellbeing and mental health

●Skills needed to confidently help someone in distress or experiencing mental ill health


After completing the Youth MHFA One Day course you’ll qualify as a Youth MHFA Champion.

Once qualified you’ll be able to:

●Display an understanding of mental health issues and how they can affect youths

●Utilise skills to notice signs of mental ill health in young people and signpost them towards the right support

●Confidently advocate for mental health awareness

●Implement skills to support positive personal wellbeing


Completion of this course will qualify you as a Youth Mental Health First Aider.

You’ll then be able to:

●Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of youth mental health and factors that can affect personal wellbeing

●Utilise skills to notice the triggers and warning signs of mental ill health

●Confidently approach, reassure, and support young people who may be in distress

●Utilise interpersonal skills, including non-judgemental listening

●Assist a young person in their recovery by guiding them to support, eg. the NHS, self-help information

●Assist a young person with a long-term mental health issue or disability

●Utilise skills to take care of your own mental health and wellbeing


The Youth Half Day course aims to raise awareness of youth mental health. This is over an introductory three hour session.

The course will provide you with:

●An understanding of common mental health issues that affect young people, including anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, and psychosis

●Skills needed to confidently support young people with a mental health issue

●Skills needed to effectively work with young people experiencing mental health issues

Browse our courses here; https://themindmap.co.uk/mental-health-first-aid/#courses

How effective are the Mental Health First Aid courses?

Independent research and evaluation shows that taking part in a Mental Health First Aid course raises awareness of mental illnesses, urges early intervention to support recovery, increases confidence in dealing with mental illnesses and reduces the stigma around it.

Research suggests that improving UK workplace mental health management could reduce employers’ losses attributed to mental illness by 30%, overall saving 8 billion a year.

Is an employer entitled to care about staff mental health?

Yes. Legally as an employer you have duty of care to ensure that employees are provided with a safe working environment.

Employers must take reasonable care to prevent personal injury  mental or physical, that may happen in the workplace.

What are the business consequences of ignoring mental health in the workplace?

Someone with poor mental health may not realise it and even if they do, they may be reluctant to seek help, or might not know where to turn for care.

There is still a great deal of ignorance around mental health issues in working environments across the UK.

There is also uncertainty about how to recognise mental illness, and about how to react when one is faced with it.

This means that those in need of mental health help and support do not always receive it.

When left uninformed and unaware, managers and co-workers may unwittingly demonstrate stigmatising or prejudiced behaviours. This of course can be very detrimental to a person experiencing any mental health issues.

Furthermore, by not being able to respond appropriately and effectively to an employee with poor mental health, an organisation may open itself up to a claim for compensation.

This could take a very long time, and cost a lot of money.

It may take precious resources away from managers, staff, and from other important work that needs to be done.

Read about the evidence for MHFA effectiveness here. 

Who should attend these courses?

Please be aware that these courses focus on employees in the work environment.

They do cover some subjects that some may find upsetting, including suicide and self-harm.

If anybody on the course feels overwhelmed or distressed they can of course leave the training at any time.

If you suspect in advance that certain subjects may be overwhelming for a delegate please do not book them on our training without first checking whether they would feel comfortable attending.

If a staff member is unsure whether or not MHFA is right for them, please encourage them to get in touch to discuss their concerns.

You can view our courses here.