Authors: Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University
Event: 2003 TheMHS Awards
Type of resource: TheMHS Awards
Award state: ACT
Award level: Winner
Award category: Mental Health Promotion or Mental Illness Prevention Program or Project
Abstract: Mental Health First Aid is a training program which teaches members of the general public how to recognise the symptoms of mental health problems, how to provide initial help, and how to go about guiding a person towards appropriate professional and self-help. The course is analogous to conventional first aid courses, but covers mental health crisis situations and developing mental health problems. The crisis situations covered include suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, exposure to a traumatic event and psychotic behaviour. The mental health problems covered are depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis and substance use disorders. The course is 12 hours long and is run by trained instructors from the local community. The course began in the ACT, but has since spread to other parts of Australia and to overseas. A number of research studies on the effectiveness of the program are being carried out. Description of Facility/Organisation: The Centre for Mental Health Research is a research organisation based at the Australian National University, funded by grants, consultancies and tenders. In the mid-1990s the Centre began research on mental health literacy. This research showed that the public are often ignorant about mental health and that there is a big gulf between public and professional thinking about mental disorders. In order to help overcome this gulf, the Centre began to develop interventions to improve mental health literacy. Mental Health First Aid is one of these interventions.