Division of Behavioral Health Services

Mental Health First Aid

Nearly 1 million people a year suffer a heart attack - making teaching CPR an important element in public health education. But while 1 million is a big number, it represents less than 1 percent of the population.

Meanwhile, about one in four Americans experience depression, anxiety or other mental illness. That means you're much more likely to encounter someone having a mental health crisis than someone having a heart attack.

Sometimes, first aid isn’t a bandage, or CPR, or the Heimlich, or calling 911. Sometimes, first aid is YOU!

Become One of Arizona's Mental Health First Aiders (MHF-Aiders)

This is an 8-hour training for anyone in Arizona interested in learning about mental health. Each 8-hour session holds between 25 and 33 people. You will learn a valuable five-step process to assess a situation, select and implement appropriate interventions, and help a person in crisis or who may be developing the signs and symptoms of mental illness. This training is usually free of charge or may have a minimal fee to pay for the training facility. When you complete this course you become certified as a MHFA-ider. These sessions are for individuals ages 16 and older.

We are also offering curriculum supplements theses are all 8-hour courses for the following populations:

  • Higher Education MHFA Course (for higher education audiences)
  • Veterans MHFA Course (for individuals who work with military members, veterans, or their families)
  • Law Enforcement MHFA (for individuals who work with police, first responders, corrections officers, or other public safety)
  • Spanish MFHA (for Spanish speaking or bi-lingual individuals)

If you are interested in becoming a MHF-Aider:

About Mental Health First Aid ARIZONA

Mental Health First Aid ARIZONA is a program launched by the Arizona Department of Health Services' Division of Behavioral Health Services and its partners in 2011 - is a public education effort to teach the public to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

The 8-hour course (formerly 12 hours) presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders. Students are introduced to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems and common treatments.

Just as CPR training helps you assist someone following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training helps you assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis, such as contemplating suicide. Trainees are taught how to apply a five-step strategy in a variety of situations, such as helping someone through a panic attack or assisting someone who has overdosed.

Mental Health First Aid teaches a five-step action plan - ALGEE - to help to someone who may be in crisis.

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

This program was originally developed in Australia and brought to the U.S. (managed, operated, and disseminated) by the National Council for Behavioral Health, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Missouri Department of Mental Health.

Photos and Stories from Past MHFA Trainings

April 2011: students going through the MHFA 12-hr certification training in Phoenix

Training of trainers (TOT) was held the week of March 28, 2011 in Tucson. Twenty three trainers became certified as mental health first aid instructors by the end of this 5-day training and after successfully completing all the coursework assignments, a comprehensive oral presentation of their learning and a final evaluation. Congratulations new MHFA Trainers and thank you for your dedication!

MHFA training
March 2011: students preparing to become MHFA Trainers