Mental Health First Aid

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

Research shows that Mental Health First Aid 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

Adult and Youth MHFA courses are offered on a regular basis at NYC DOHMH.

Certification Programs

Adult Certification

Adult Mental Health First Aid is appropriate for adults 18 years and older who want to learn how to help a person who may be experiencing a mental health related crisis or problem. The course teaches participants a five-step action plan to support someone developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis. Topics covered include: anxiety, depression, psychosis, and substance use disorders. The adult course is available in both English and Spanish. Course participants come from a variety of backgrounds and play various roles in a community.

Register Online

Youth Certification

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach adults who regularly interact with adolescents such as parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring individuals how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or substance use issue or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, and disruptive behavior disorders.

Register Online

Public Safety Certification

This training is for adults who work in Law Enforcement and Public Safety (law enforcement officers, private security, probation and parole, fire/EMS, corrections, dispatchers, courts, legal, town watch, etc.). For a number of reasons, individuals experiencing mental illness and substance use disorders often have more contact with the criminal justice system than the general population does. Thus, the better prepared officers and staff is to respond effectively and appropriately, the more likely the interaction will be a positive one. Mental Health First Aid offers a tailored supplement which builds upon the effectiveness of the standard Mental Health First Aid curriculum by focusing on the unique experiences and needs of law enforcement, corrections, and public safety audiences.

Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety is specially designed for police officers, first responders, corrections officers and other public safety professionals, helping them to better understand mental illnesses and addictions. Mental Health First Aid/Public Safety teaches effective response options to deescalate incidents without compromising safety.

Veterans and Military Families

Certification Mental Health First Aid for Veterans is a course specially designed for veterans, family members of veterans, and personnel working with the military and families who want to learn how to help a veteran who may be experiencing a mental health related crisis or problem. Family members and personnel working with military and families are often not aware of how to engage veterans with mental illnesses and addictions. In addition to the impact of military service on the veteran, each has a circle of family (significant other, children, parents, siblings, etc.) and friends who are also impacted by their military service. Mental Health First Aid is a valuable resource that can make a difference in the lives of the more than 22 million veterans, their families, and the communities they live in.

Higher Education Certification

Mental illnesses and substance use challenges often present during adolescence and young adulthood, when many individuals are students at colleges and universities. College and university faculty, staff, families and students can learn how to help each other within a framework of their unique culture and set of resources. Mental Health First Aid offers a tailored supplement which builds upon the effectiveness of the standard Mental Health First Aid curriculum by focusing on higher education settings. This supplement is intended to blend with the existing 8-hour adult / “core” MHFA course and is not appropriate for use with the youth MHFA curriculum.

Older Adults

Mental illness and aging can often 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. Furthermore, older adults have high rates of late onset mental health disorders (anxiety/depression) and low rates of identification and treatment. This curriculum module will help existing Adult MHFA Instructors in good standing reach this population with updated prevalence data, a new film, and scenarios.