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Mental Health First Aid Aotearoa New Zealand

In any year, one in five New Zealand adults will experience a mental health challenge.

This means that, at some stage, everyone will interact with someone experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis. That person could be your co-worker, a whānau member or friend. They could be someone in your class at school or university, someone in your club or sports team, a person in your church or community organisation, or a stranger.

Knowing how to recognise the signs of a mental health challenge is important.

And knowing what to say to someone – how to start that conversation – and to safely and confidently provide that initial support, is vital.

Mental Health First Aid Aotearoa educates and empowers people, giving them the skills, knowledge and confidence to assist people when they need support for their mental health.

Anyone can learn and everyone should know.

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Aotearoa is an evidence-based education programme which teaches people how to recognise the signs of someone experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis.

Participants also learn how to assist people using a five-step MHFA action plan – ALGEE – which gives them the confidence to act and make a positive difference to someone in distress or facing a mental health challenge.

Our programmes

MHFA Aotearoa offers several programmes, including a Standard MHFA course and a Youth MHFA course.

The Standard MHFA programme is for adults supporting other adults and covers a range of topics including depression, anxiety, psychosis, problematic substance use, suicidal thoughts and behaviours, and non-suicidal self-injury.

The Youth MHFA programme focuses on how adults can support young people aged 11 to 18 years old, and is ideal for teachers, guidance counsellors, youth workers, and anyone who works with youth. The Youth MHFA course is tailored to adults working with intermediate and high school-aged students and also includes topics such as eating disorders, alongside those covered in the Standard programme.

Why choose Mental Health First Aid Aotearoa?

  • It is an evidence-based programme for Aotearoa that equips people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to support someone experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis.

  • MHFA increases mental health literacy, decreases stigmatising attitudes and encourages early help-seeking behaviours for those experiencing or supporting someone with a mental health challenge.

  • It is an internationally recognised mental health education programme which launched more than 20 years ago and is now taught in 29 countries around the world.

  • It will benefit you and your whānau. Research shows the important role that family and friends have in recognising developing mental health challenges and taking action to prevent the problem from worsening.

  • Be part of a movement that aims to make a difference to mental health in our workplaces, schools, sports clubs, organisations and communities!

How does it work?

Evidence-based for Aotearoa New Zealand

The MHFA Aotearoa programmes are based on population health data and are rigorously researched, both in terms of the content and evaluations of their effectiveness.

MHFA is respected and trusted around the world for its robust, evidence-based approach.

In the New Zealand context, the adaption and development of our programmes involves the expert contributions of New Zealand mental health professionals, cultural advisors, and people with lived experience of mental health challenges.

Role of Te Pou

Te Pou is the national license holder of Mental Health First Aid Aotearoa.

In July 2020, we took over the New Zealand license for the programme from Counties Manukau District Health Board, who had held the license since 2010.

While more community-focused, MHFA Aotearoa sits among a suite of mental health, addiction and disability resources and training that Te Pou provides for the workforce.

About MHFA International

Mental Health First Aid International, based in Australia, is a not-for-profit organisation that develops, delivers and evaluates accredited mental health training programmes. The Mental Health First Aid programme began in Australia in 2000 and has since evolved into a global movement that is delivered by an active community of licensed providers in 29 countries. To date, over 6 million people worldwide have been trained.

Key contacts