Developed in Australia in 2001 and brought to Canada in 2006, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a nationally recognized certification course that is offered in every province and territory through the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Courses are delivered by certified MHFA instructors who have been trained exclusively by the Commission.
What is Mental Health First Aid?
In the broadest sense, Mental Health First Aid is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing the worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. Just like physical first aid is provided until medical treatment can be obtained, MHFA is given until appropriate support is found or until the crisis is resolved.
Mental Health First Aid helps by allowing an individual to:
- Confidently engage in situations where a person may be a danger to themselves or others
- Provide direct help and support in order to prevent mental health problems from developing into a more serious state
- Promote the recovery of good health
- Provide comfort to a person experiencing a mental health problem.
MHFA Basic training is geared towards a broad population, and is intended for adults interacting with adults. In the community, it allows one to confidently provide assistance to family, friends and neighbours. In the workplace, it allows staff to recognize the signs and symptoms among colleagues and friends, and to provide intervention when needed.
Why take Mental Health First Aid?
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, peer-reviewed studies show that individuals trained in Mental Health First Aid:
- Display increased knowledge and awareness regarding the signs, symptoms and risk factors of mental health problems
- Decrease the social distance between themselves and someone with a mental health problem
- Increase their confidence to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis
- Can identify professional and self-help resources for individuals with a mental health problem
- Show increased mental wellness themselves
Mental Health First Aid Canada is included on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Best Practices Portal where it is classified as a best practice, meaning it has:
- High Impact – positive changes related to the desired goal(s)
- High Adaptability – successful adaptation and transferability to different settings
- High Quality of Evidence – excellent quality of research/evaluation methodology, confirming the intervention’s high impact and adaptability evidence
How does Mental Health First Aid benefit the workplace?
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada:
- In a recent major Canadian study, 82% of responding organizations ranked mental health conditions in their top three causes of short term disability (72% for long-term)
- 30% of all short and long-term disability claims are due to mental health problems and illnesses
- The average responding organization reported spending more than $10.5 million annually on absence claims
- In 2011, lost productivity due to absenteeism and presenteeism (present but less than fully productive at work) due to mental health problems and illnesses was approximately $6 Billion
The outcomes of Mental Health First Aid include:
- Significantly greater recognition of the most common mental health illnesses and problems
- Decreased social distance from people with mental health illnesses or problems
- Increased confidence in providing help to others
- Demonstrated increase in helpful actions
Employers who set a strategic direction for improving mental health are rewarded with dramatic cost and effectiveness benefits, and enjoy significant and sustainable enhancements in:
- Productivity: Psychologically healthy employees work hard and efficiently
- Cost Savings due to disability and absenteeism: There is a strong link between mental health, physical well-being and injury prevention
- Operational success: Mentally healthy workplaces are characterized by higher levels of employee motivation, commitment, innovation and creativity, as well as fewer errors, better decision making and improved planning
- Recruitment and retention: Top candidates today are looking for a workplace that supports their personal and professional growth
- Conflict resolution: Better mental health among employees means fewer grievances and complaints and a stronger corporate reputation
For further information regarding Mental Health First Aid, please visit the Mental Health Commission of Canada website at www.mhfa.ca.
For further information regarding the facilitator and course delivery in the Prairie provinces, please contact us.