Mental Health First Aid

As part of the City's Thrive NYC initiative, the NYC Department of Health is offering free Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to all New Yorkers. MHFA is a groundbreaking public education program that teaches the skills needed to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental health and substance abuse challenges and crises.

MHFA leads to:

  • Greater recognition of behavioral health challenges
  • Increased confidence in one’s ability to help
  • Increased amount of help provided
  • Decreased stigmatizing attitudes while promoting inclusion

You can register online for one of the certification programs described below.

Certification Programs

Adult MHFA

This course teaches participants a five-step action plan to help someone 18 years or older who is displaying signs of a mental illness or emotional crisis. The course will show you how to help an adult experiencing:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Substance use disorders

The course is available in English and Spanish.

Youth MHFA

This course is designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents (ages 12 to 18), including:

  • Parents and other family
  • Caregivers
  • Teachers and school staff
  • Neighbors
  • Health and human services workers

The course covers common mental health challenges for youth as they go through adolescence. Participants will learn a five-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.

The course will show you how to help an adolescent experiencing:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Psychosis
  • Disruptive behavior disorders

Public Safety MHFA

This MHFA supplemental course is specially designed to help first responders and other public safety professionals better understand mental illnesses and addiction.

It focuses on the unique experiences and needs of law enforcement and public safety officials, including:

  • Police
  • Private security
  • Probation and parole officers
  • Fire Department/EMS
  • Corrections officers
  • Dispatchers
  • Courts officials
  • Legal workers
  • Town watch

People experiencing mental illness and substance use disorders are more likely to have contact with the criminal justice system. This course teaches effective response options that can help safety officials de-escalate incidents without putting themselves at unnecessary risk. Better preparation by officers and staff increases the likelihood an interaction will be a positive one.

Veterans and Military Families MHFA

This course is specially designed for veterans, family members of veterans, and personnel working with the military and families. These groups often don’t know how to engage veterans who have mental illnesses or addictions. Also, veterans’ friends and family are themselves impacted by military service and may need help.

MHFA can provide a roadmap for communication and support among these groups.

Higher Education MHFA

Mental illnesses and substance use challenges often arise for students at colleges and universities. This tailored supplemental course teaches college and university faculty, staff, families and students how to help each other. This supplement is intended for people who also take the “core” Adult MHFA course described above. It should not be taken in tandem with the Youth MHFA course.

Older Adults MHFA

Mental illness and aging can be a double stigma. According to the National Council on Aging, the number of Americans 85 and older will triple by the year 2050. Older adults and care partners are less likely to identify a problem as a symptom of a mental health disorder. Also, older adults have high rates of late onset mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, and low rates of identification and treatment.

This supplemental course will help those who already have Adult MHFA certification reach older adults and their care partners with updated prevalence data, a film and specifically tailored scenarios.