Mental Health First Aid

Brian V. Gybb
Director of Public Education
National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare

Certificates and CEUs:

  • National Board for Certified Counselors and Associates (NBCC)
  • The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC)
  • IC&RC credentials (International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium) for substance abuse counselors by the Connecticut Certification Board, an IC&RC affiliate
  • Approved Continuing Education (ACE) - Association of Social Work Boards


You are more likely to encounter a person in an emotional or mental crisis than someone having a heart attack. Mental disorders are more common than heart disease and cancer combined. The stigma surrounding mental illness often prevents people from acknowledging that they need help. And if they do want help, they don’t know where to turn. Mental Health First Aid equips you to help persons with mental illness connect to care.

Mental Health First Aid is a groundbreaking public education program, which introduces participants to the risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments. Those who take the 12-hour course to certify as Mental Health First Aiders learn a 5-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources, and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care. This program can reduce the damaging effects of mental and emotional disorders such as job loss, school dropouts, relationship issues, and drug and alcohol problems.
The evidence behind Mental Health First Aid demonstrates that it makes people feel more comfortable managing a crisis situation and builds mental health literacy —  helping the public identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness.  Specifically, studies found that those who trained in Mental Health First Aid have greater confidence in providing help to others, greater likelihood of advising people to seek professional


The course is appropriate for a broad audience – from lay persons to clinicians. Since it is a first aid course it is appropriate for individuals with very little background in Mental Health, and for those with more experience, it provides an action plan that could be useful in their day-to-day work.


  1. Knowledge of the potential risk factors and warning signs for a range of mental health problems, including: depression, anxiety/trauma, psychosis and psychotic disorders, eating disorders, substance use disorders, and self-injury
  2. A 5-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources and knowledge to assess the situation, to select and implement appropriate interventions, and to help the individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional care 
  3. An understanding of the prevalence of various mental health disorders in the U.S. and the need for reduced stigma in their communities
  4. Working knowledge of the appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help resources available to help someone with a mental health problem treat and manage the problem and achieve recovery.


None required.

For more information visit the Mental Health First Aid website.