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Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Canada

When I was about 13, the chimney in our family home caught fire (and no, it wasn’t my fault).

My mom became hysterical. “Call the fire department,” I said. She kept screaming and running around the house. I followed, repeating, “Call the fire department.”

I called the fire department.

I’ve always jumped in at accident scenes. I’m calm, focused and know what’s needed.

Natural-born first responders

I used to have no idea why this was so. Now I know that this is common amongst people with ADHD. The high level of stimulation in emergency situations focuses us, giving us the clarity and presence of mind that lets us act quickly and efficiently while others are freaking out.

I’m sure my hyper-focus also kicks in, allowing me to ignore the chaos and focus on the victim and their needs.

22 Comments to
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Canada

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  1. Hi my workplace is offering MHFA and I will be attending it next week. In Australia it costs $20 dollars to do the course for health professionals and I am a RN who works in a busy ED in Qld. I think its a brilliant idea and I hadnt heard of it until March this year.

    • Hi LouRn!

      Wow! That’s so cool. We’ll have to share notes. I hope you’ll write again with some impressions about the course.

      I admit I’m envious, my course will cost more than 10 times yours, at $250.00 plus travel expenses (I’ll have to travel 242 km return, 4 hours’ driving return trip) to attend. Oh well, this is the cost of choosing to live in a beautiful, lightly populated rural area! I’ll take it.

      I’m excited to hear from you, thanks so much for sharing! (and also for making me feel a little better about just recently hearing about the training! You’re very kind to mention that. I do try to keep up with what’s going on that will be helpful to my blog readers. Better late than never, eh?)

      Take care, and all the best on your course!


  2. We call it Crisis Intervention. I too have ADHD, I work with conduct disorder high schoolers in a court mandated school setting. We take this training every 5 years. The training does not seem to work as well for people that don’t have innate instincts to function at that level.

    • Thanks for your comment, oneofthewinklers.

      The training I’m referring to is specific, with specific protocols and curriculum and so forth. Not sure if it’s the same training as the “Crisis Intervention” you’re referring to, but it’s all good if it helps others.

      I do tend to agree that having an innate, or “instinctual” sensibility about anything certainly helps. As long as it’s a more skilful, effective response after training, it’s worth it. After all, we can only do our best.

      Take care, and thanks for sharing your comment with us.


  3. There is another program out there. Its called Mental Health Social Support…and its offered online by The Mental Health Academy, based in Australia.
    I am almost done the course. It might be beneficial to look at it and compare the program objectives that of MHFA.

    • kwl. Thanks for the info, Paul!

  4. Lol now you got me looking at the MHFA. I being in Canada as well, I have found it challenging to find canadian-based programs. Most seem to come out of Australia, based on my experience.

    • We’ll have to trade notes once I’ve gone through the MHFA training. Collborative blog post, maybe?

    • Sorry forgot to add to my previous post – MHFA originates from Australia but has been picked up internationally, including Canada. The course here has been adjusted to reflect Canadian stats, resources, etc. – regards, Gail

  5. Hi Zoe,

    It’s so exciting to see MHFA Canada in your blog post! We run the MHFA program in the USA so we’re always delighted when others are as thrilled by it as we are. You make great points about how important the training is and how useful it can be in crisis situations. Thanks for sharing about it! Feel free to check out the USA program at

    • Hi “National Council”!

      My pleasure!

      I’ll have more insight into the MHFA training after I’ve let myself be the guinea pig for the Psych Central team. I’m really hoping to attend a seminar in the late fall here in Canada (weather permitting!).

      This blog post seems to be generating some great discussion and exposure to the concept of first aid during mental health emergencies / crises, so that’s a great thing and certainly part of my mandate here at ADHD from A to Zoë.

      If all goes well, I’ll consider taking the MHFA instructor training as I’ve taught adults for over 35 years and have a specialized degree in Adult Education, so this is right up my alley, marrying many of my passions. One step at a time!

      Thanks for writing,

  6. Hi there,

    I did this course in May in BC. It’s pretty good -it is basic, but provides a general overview of the main types of disorders and some instructions for first responders. I would recommend it. I did the general one, rather than the one for youth, and it was paid for by my employer.

    My only comment is that it would be a good idea to add dementia to the list of issues that they cover.

    • Thanks for the recommendation, Kaye.

      And yes, I think adding dementia/Alzheimer would be an excellent addition to their list! Especially given North American demographics at the moment and in the near future. I’ve worked in long term care (providing therapeutic drumming) and learned a fair bit on-the-job, but you’re right: it’s an important topic.

      Think I’ll suggest it.

      Take care & have a great weekend!

  7. Hi – I’m an instructor for MHFA Canada & strongly encourage everyone to consider taking the course. It is evidence based (supported by research) & provides a solid framework on how to safely manage situations until professional help is available. There are 2 courses – the “basic” course focuses on interventions for adults; while the 2nd course is for adults who interact with youth. If you take MHFA + a CPR or physical first aid course, the combination will give you a good base to work from in crisis situations. MHFA does not teach students to be therapists, but rather how to be a support person for someone in a mental health crisis. Personally & professionally, I believe this is an excellent course & overall student response has been favourable. Take care, Zoe & Everyone – Gail

    • Hi Gail.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog post and for providing input based on your experience. It’s been fascinating to hear from so many people who are so passionate about this training!

      I’m delighted now to have heard from course participants, the national head of MHFA USA, students of alternative training programs, and now, with your comment, instructors of the MHFA curriculum.

      I’m also glad I’ll be able to eventually add my own voice again, once I’ve completed the training, and be able to give a first-hand account of my experience.

      Here’s to more trained, caring people out there ready (and prepared) to help others!

      Take care,

      • Hi Again, Zoe – your blog post was forwarded to me by a friend who correctly assumed that I might want to join the conversation. I have to spend more time “poking around”, but it seems you have a great blog going & that PsychCentral is a great community! Thanx for allowing me to chime in – will continue to follow. Feedback from a variety of sources re: MHFA will no doubt be helpful as I continuously develop as a facilitator & for my personal growth. Be well. Gail

      • Thanks, Gail!
        All the best for your courses!

  8. Hi Zoe,

    No I haven’t heard about this particular training course but a friend of mine had been through something similar as a social worker. I think it is great this is open to the general public!

    I checked out the MA web site. Unfortunately, there is only one course close to me available but the date is not doable for me. I’ll will check back in the fall. Thanks for the info.


    • Hey, KLL, that’s great!

      We’ll have to compare notes once we’ve been through the course!

      Take care,

  9. Hi Zoe,
    I started the first day today and it was very insightful. The origins of the course were explained and what mental illness is
    They teach you how to respond using an acronym called ALGEE.
    Approach, Assess and Assist
    Listen non judgementally
    Give support and info
    Encourage appropiate professional help
    Encourage other support
    They explain what each means in more detail
    So far we have covered Depression and Anxiety disorders. In Depression they also discuss Suicide risk as well.
    Also they have a program that goes for 14 hours on Youth mental health issues which I’m going to try and book in soon too.
    Regards Lou

    • Hi Lou.
      Thanks for the update and good luck with the course!


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