Dal Alert!

Receive alerts from Dalhousie by text message.


Workplace Wellness Workshop: Mental Health First Aid

Mental health first aid is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate professional treatment is received or until the crisis is resolved. The concept is based on the model of medical first aid. Some mental health problems are more common than many physical health problems. While people often know a lot about physical illness, most people have little knowledge about mental illness.

This lack of understanding promotes fear and stigma. It prevents people from seeking help early and seeking the best kind of help. It also keeps people from providing appropriate support to friends, colleagues, family members and people around them simply because they do not know how. Mental Health First Aid is an evidence-based course developed in Australia by Betty Kitchener and Professor Tony Jorm.

Participants will learn how to help people who are showing signs of mental health problems or who are experiencing a mental health crisis. The course does not train you to be a therapist, counsellor or mental health professional.

Topic Areas:

• What is meant by mental health and mental illness/mental health problems

• Signs and symptoms of common mental health problems and crisis situations

• A basic model to provide mental health first aid

• Information about effective interventions and treatments

• How to access professional help problems covered:

• Substance-related disorders

• Mood disorders

• Anxiety disorders

• Psychotic disorders health crisis situations covered:

• Overdoses

• Suicidal behaviour

• Panic attacks

• Reactions to traumatic events

• Psychotic episodes

The course has been formally evaluated and shows a number of benefits:

• Better recognition of mental health problems

• Increased knowledge about appropriate treatments

• Reduced stigma

• Increased confidence in providing help to others

What is the purpose of the course?

Mental Health First Aid Canada teaches participants how to help someone showing signs of a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The course aims to teach people to:

• Identify when a person may be a danger to themselves or others and take steps to preserve life.

• Recognize the early signs of mental health problems and provide help to prevent more serious problems from developing.

• Provide comfort to someone with a mental health problem and support them in the recovery of their mental health.

• Guide a person toward the appropriate professional help.

 Course format:

Mental Health First Aid Canada is a 12-hour training course delivered in four modules of three hours each. This is an interactive course that is provided in a supportive group learning environment. Practical skills are taught using a model that is easy to remember and apply in real-life settings.


Keith Brumwell is the former co-manager of the Canadian Mental Health Association Halifax–Dartmouth Branch and a retired RCMP officer. He is a former chapter president of a Schizophrenia Society chapter and vice-president of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia. He was awarded the Queens Jubilee medal for his community volunteer work.


Faculty Interest, Staff Interest