First Aid

What is Mental Health First Aid

Ricky Kambray
Ricky Kambray

When it comes to health, our physical health is the one that we are most concerned about. Mental health is often neglected. There is a lot of information about physical illnesses and treatments but much less awareness about the signs, symptoms and treatments of mental health problems.

Even when we know someone is experiencing mental health problems, we may not know what to say or do to help, let alone know what is mental health first aid? or how to provide them with that.

Mental health first aid has the acronym “ALGEE“, which stands for

  1. Assess risk;
  2. Listen non-judgmentally;
  3. Give reassurance and information;
  4. Encourage appropriate professional help and,
  5. Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

These five steps can be followed to provide someone with MHFA. Let’s start with a simple definition of mental first aid.

Illustration showing how you can improve mental health by watering positivity


What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental health means having a positive sense of well-being and coping with life’s challenges. Mental health is essential throughout life, from childhood to adulthood.

This is especially true when dealing with stress and making good choices. Mental health problems are now widespread among people in the UK. According to research, about one in four people will experience it every year.

Two doctors connecting jigsaw pieces of a head together


Just as CPR is a way to help people with a heart attack, mental health first aid is a way to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a way to make it easier for people to discuss mental health and substance use problems. It teaches people how to identify signs of mental illness and panic attacks and take steps to address them.

You can provide someone with mental health first aid until they receive professional help or the problem resolves.

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Young people are our future. If their mind is not healthy, they won’t be able to contribute to the making of a better world. That is where youth mental health first aid comes in. It is about recognising the signs of mental health problems in young people and providing support. 

If young people can talk to mental health first aiders about their problems, it can help speed up their recovery and stop the problem from worsening.

Illustration showing young people with mental health issues


MHFA at Work Place

When you are not mentally at ease, your productivity suffers. Mental health first aid in the workplace can be incredibly beneficial for both employers and employees by providing a safe space for open dialogue.

Expand Your Knowledge From Anywhere, at Any Time!!

Get Study Plex Subscription with 1000+ Accredited CPD Courses at only £99/Year. Access Unlimited CPD Accredited Courses at £199 Lifetime

Employers can introduce mental health first aiders into the workplace, allowing them to support and guide their colleagues.

These mental health first aiders can offer non-judgemental and confidential support to their colleagues, helping to break down the stigma and taboo around mental health issues.

Steps of Mental Health First Aid


The action plan for mental health first aid (ALGEE) is a step-by-step plan that provides guidance on how to support someone experiencing a mental health issue. 

There are five steps in the MHFA Action Plan that can be used in any sequence.



AApproach, assess for risk of suicide or harm

Finding the correct time and place to start a conversation with the sufferer is essential to respect their privacy and confidentiality. If someone does not want to tell you something, you can persuade them to discuss it with someone else.

L Listen non-judgmentally

Some people want to talk about their challenges or distress first, so please let them do so without interruption. You must be empathic while listening. You can start the conversation by saying, “I noticed that …” Try to be accepting, even though you disagree with what they say.

GGive reassurance and information

Be ready to offer hope and authentic information when someone tells you their story. Reassure them that there are people who will listen and understand, as well as provide resources and support. Even if you don’t agree with their views, try to remain accepting and offer understanding.

E Encourage appropriate professional help

Early intervention is vital to helping a person recover from a mental illness. Therefore, it’s essential to be willing to help this person learn more about the different options available to them.

EEncourage self-help and other support strategies

This will help them find out what resources are available in their community to support them, as well as create a personal plan to take care of them emotionally and physically.

Know What’s Not Helpful

Sometimes, our best intentions can backfire. When you are thinking about talking to someone who might have a mental health issue, it is vital to keep in mind that you are not saying or doing anything that could make the person feel uncomfortable or scared.

Try to avoid the following;

  • Saying to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘get over it’.
  • Being sarcastic.
  • Repeating the same thing over and over
  • Trivialising their experience (for example, don’t tell them to get their act together)
  • Belittling or dismissing their feelings
  • Being patronising
  • Trying to cure them 


Mental health is just as important as physical health. Mental illness can strike at any time and can affect anyone. However, providing the sufferers with professional help is impossible every time, which is why we need extra help, which mental health first aiders can offer.

Since mental health is no joke or an easy nut to crack, it is important to learn the techniques of becoming good mental health first aider by taking mental health first aid training. This can be achieved easily and quickly by taking our mental health first aid course, which you can complete at your own pace. 


Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]


Is mental illness genetic?

Ans: Mental disorders are often passed down from family members, and if you have a close relative with a mental disorder, this can make you more likely to develop one yourself. However, just because a member of your family is mentally ill does not mean you will be as well.


Can medication cause mental illness?

Ans: Yes, as side effects, drugs can trigger mental illness. It can be temporary or long-term. That is why medicine should only be taken when it is prescribed.


How long does an MFH Aider certificate last?

Ans: After receiving it, it is valid for 3 years. Just like first aid, you will have to take refresher training every three years.


Is mental illness curable?

Ans: There is no cure for mental illness, but treatments can help. People with mental illnesses can improve their symptoms and lead full and healthy lives.


Can pregnancy cause mental health issues?

Ans: During pregnancy, your body, your social circle, and your emotions all change a lot. Sometimes this can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.


Does autism fall under mental health issues?

Ans: No, autism is not a mental health issue. It is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioural challenges. 


Can an infant be depressed?

Ans: Babies don’t have a lot of experience in their lives, but that doesn’t mean they can’t experience depression. Some mental health professionals believe that babies can become depressed based on what they know from case studies and clinical experience.

Like This Article?

Share it on social.

Ricky Kambray

Hey this is Ricky Kambray an award-winning first-aid trainer with over 20 years of healthcare and teaching expertise. Highly certified general nurse regularly appears in the press discussing accident prevention and first aid advice.