Mental Health First Aid

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is an early intervention public education program. It teaches adults how to recognize the signs and symptoms that suggest a potential mental health or substance use challenge, how to listen nonjudgmentally and give reassurance to a person who may be experiencing a mental health challenge, and how to refer out to appropriate professional support and services.

With self-paced virtual pre-work you’ll learn about the prevalence and impact of mental illness, how to recognize early signs and symptoms of mental health challenges, and get introduced to the Mental Health First Aid action plan.  In the instructor-led portion of the training you’ll learn how to implement this action plan and practice the skills you need to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use challenge. Mental Health First Aid also covers what you can do to help if someone is experiencing a mental health crisis.

Why do fitness professionals need to know Mental Health First Aid?

Every two years you renew your CPR certification, but what do you do for mental health education? Would you know what to say if you were concerned about your client’s mental health? Do you know the signs to look for when assessing risk?

1 in 5 American adults experiences a mental health challenge. When people are looking to improve their mental wellbeing, often they first look to physical fitness for help managing stress and boosting their mood. This places us in a prime position as group fitness instructors and personal trainers to be an advocate for mental wellness and connect our clients with mental health professionals if needed.

There’s a few other reasons I think all fitness professionals should be trained in Mental Health First Aid…

You’re already helping change people’s lives: As leaders in fitness, you are skilled in helping people improve their physical health. You are often the very first line of support for people looking to let off some steam or decompress after a long day at work. One of my early-riser clients shared that they HAVE to work out early in the morning to “get their mind in the best place” before heading in to work. 

Your group fitness students and personal training clients trust you, and this means they might be more open to talking with you about their mental health challenges.  Mental Health First Aid does not teach you how to diagnose or treat these challenges, but it does provide you with the tools to help people feel less distressed and be a vital link in connecting them with further assistance. Whether it’s professional help or self-care, you’ll learn about numerous evidence-based treatments and how you can help people access them.

Everyone is talking about mental health: Don’t get me wrong, I love that we are shifting the norm and talking more about mental health. But how many of these conversations are highlighting that recovery is possible? Mental Health First Aid training makes sure these conversations include discussion of all the available support and resources. Help is available. There are so many people out there who make a career out of helping people through mental health challenges but sometimes it takes someone to “reach in” rather than waiting for an individual in need to reach out for help. 

You want to help but aren’t sure what to say: The important thing is that you care and this will come across to your students and clients.  Mental Health First Aid teaches you how body language and non-judgmental listening can make a powerful impact.  With an informed view of mental health challenges and a holistic perspective to care, you can help others and empower them to help themselves.  You’ll also get some guidance on what is helpful to say, and some insight on what it not-so-helpful, so you feel confident discussing mental health.

You can be an advocate within your studio or gym and make a real difference in the life of someone who is experiencing a mental health challenge. 

Mental Health First Aid is an international education program proven to be effective in teaching adults how to recognize and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges.

Peer-reviewed studies have been conducted around the world and show that individuals trained in the program:

  • Grow their knowledge of signs, symptoms and risk factors of mental illnesses and addictions.
  • Can identify multiple types of professional and self-help resources for individuals with a mental health or substance use challenge.
  • Increase their confidence in and likelihood to help an individual in distress.
  • Show increased mental wellness themselves.

How long is Mental Health First Aid training?

I offer blended Adult Mental Health First Aid training with an option for virtual or in-person instructor-led training. The blended in-person course consists of 2-hours of self-paced content to be completed online before 5.5 hours of instructor-led training. The blended virtual course consists of 2-hours of self-paced content followed by 6.5 hours of instructor-led training on Zoom. More time is allotted for virtual instruction to allow for more frequent breaks.

What do I learn in Mental Health First Aid?

By the end of the Mental Health First Aid course, participants will be able to: 

  • Describe the purpose of Mental Health First Aid and the role of the Mental Health First Aider.
  • Identify the impact of mental health challenges on the well-being of adults in the U.S.
  • Explain that recovery from a mental health challenge is possible.
  • Describe the principles of safety and privacy for both the Mental Health First Aider and the person receiving first aid.
  • Explain the 5 steps of the Mental Health First Aid Action Plan (ALGEE).
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health challenges that may impact adults.
  • Evaluate the impact of early intervention on mental health challenges.
  • Apply the appropriate steps of the Mental Health First Aid Action Plan (ALGEE) when a person shows early signs of a mental health challenge.
  • Apply the appropriate steps of the Mental Health First Aid Action Plan (ALGEE) when a person shows worsening signs of a mental health challenge.
  • Apply the appropriate steps of the Mental Health First Aid Action Plan (ALGEE) to crisis situations.
  • Choose appropriate methods for self-care following the application of Mental Health First Aid in a crisis or non-crisis situation.

Who created Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid was created in Australia in 2000 by Betty Kitchener, an educator and mental health consumer, and Professor Tony Jorm, a mental health researcher. In 2008, the National Council, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health brought Mental Health First Aid to the United States.

Want to share Mental Health First Aid with other fitness professionals or offer a training at your studio or gym?

I offer Mental Health First Aid training throughout the year for anyone who is interested in learning Mental Health First Aid. You can register independently or as a group. If you’d like to arrange a private course just for your studio or gym, please email me at mindfulfitpro@gmail.com. Ask about group discounts available for private courses with 10+ participants.

Virtual and in-person blended Mental Health First Aid courses are limited to 15 participants. Fully in-person Mental Health First Aid courses are limited to 30 participants. Registration for the in-person Mental Health First Aid course includes fees for travel and materials.

Feel free to use the one-page informational flyer and any of the letters below to share information about Mental Health First Aid with your supervisors, studio and gym owners, or fellow fitness professionals on your team.

%d bloggers like this: