Mental health first aid

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) teaches the same skills for mental illness as basic first aid uses for someone experiencing a physical health problem. This is the help you can give before professional treatment arrives.

MHFA improves mental health literacy and can help you to:

  • recognise signs and symptoms in someone with a mental health problem
  • respond to various mental health crisis situations
  • engage with and support the person
  • direct people to appropriate professional help

How to help someone going through a mental health crisis

During a mental health crisis a person may be:

  • feeling suicidal
  • having anxiety attacks
  • in an acute stress reaction
  • out of touch with reality in a distressing psychotic state

General strategies you can use to help

  1. Introduce yourself and explain why you are present.
  2. Remain courteous and non threatening, but be honest and direct.
  3. Listen to the person in a non judgmental way.
  4. Avoid confrontation at all costs – be prepared to "agree to differ" with the person's perspective.
  5. Clarify and address what the person sees as the major issues first (not what you, the helper, see as the major concerns).
  6. Do not attempt to manhandle the person, except to prevent serious assault or suicide attempts.
  7. Encourage / assist person to receive professional mental health help.
  8. Finally, if the incident was traumatic for you, or you feel anxious or distressed, discuss these issues with a friend or a professional service.

24 Hour Emergency Services

Health Direct Australia

1800 022 222

Mental Health Emergency Response Line (MHERL)

1300 555 788 Metro

1800 676 822 Peel

Rural Link

1800 552 002


Mental Health Week