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100,000 goal to mark first anniversary of MHFA Aotearoa

Angela Gruar, Manager Learning and Development, reflects on the growth of Mental Health First Aid Aotearoa as Te Pou celebrates the first anniversary of the launch of the fourth edition of the standard programme.

It is always interesting to take time to reflect on things, and the journey of MHFA Aotearoa is no different.

As we have reached the first anniversary of the implementation of the fourth edition of Mental Health First Aid Aotearoa, it feels right to celebrate our achievements since becoming the license holder in July 2020.

Te Pou was fortunate to take over the national license from Counties Manukau DHB, as it was, who had brought the MHFA programme over to New Zealand. We were able to take learnings from them, and continue to build MHFA in Aotearoa.

Once we had the license, we employed a small but mighty team of Sarah Christensen (Project Lead) and Jo Lai (Programme Coordinator).

Since the team has been on board, a lot of mahi has happened. We adapted the latest version, edition 4, of the standard programme for the Aotearoa context. This included working with many people from within Te Pou and externally to bring together the latest research, the voices of lived experience, clinical knowledge, and cultural expertise. A real highlight was the creative expressions that were so graciously gifted to us from tangata whāi ora and feature prominently throughout the workshop manual.

MHFA Aotearoa edition 4 was launched in October 2021. The instructors who had worked alongside Counties Manukau were the first to be offered the opportunity to upskill in the latest version. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 lockdowns, this first instructor training had to be delivered via Zoom which is no easy task, but all involved got through.

This year, the MHFA Aotearoa team has delivered five in-person new instructor training courses across Aotearoa and brought new master instructors into the fold alongside Sarah, Laura Conlon and Kerri Butler.

We are proud that there are now 89 accredited MHFA Aotearoa instructors, who have delivered 129 workshops to 2127 people who can now proudly call themselves Mental Health First Aiders.

To celebrate our first anniversary, we have set the goal of training 100,000 Mental Health First Aiders in 10 years. This is a shared goal with our MHFA Aotearoa community, as we continue to train instructors who then go out and teach the programme in communities and workplaces.

TP 220803 MHFA 100000
The image says 100,000 Mental Health First Aiders in red text on top of a background of manuka flowers.

While that standard programme has been out being taught across the motu, the development work has continued. The Workplace MHFA Aotearoa programme will be available before the end of this year, the Standard Refresher course has been piloted, and the team has just completed mentoring with MHFA Australia in the Youth and Teen programmes. We will be adapting the Youth version first with funding support from Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group who will roll this out locally in 2023 before it becomes available nationally.

We are so proud of the achievements made over the last 12 months. To know there are over 2000 Mental Health First Aiders equipped to have mental health first aid conversations in our workplaces and communities is humbling and we look forward to seeing the programme grow even more.

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