Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) was started in Australia by a wife-and-husband team, Betty Kitchener and Anthony Jorm, in 2000. Many members of the community do not know how best to assist someone developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis, so this training course was developed, using the first aid model, to equip members of the public with the knowledge and skills to assist someone with a mental health problem.
The innovation has spread to many other countries, including Bermuda, Cambodia, Canada, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland Japan, Malta, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, USA, UK, Wales.
MHFA is delivered as a 12-hour training course (4 sessions of 3 hours each) by local accredited MHFA Instructors in their community. The program is based on the familiar concept of first aid training, and extends this to cover developing mental health problems and mental health crises, which has made it more readily accepted by the public. There are also a number of variant courses, including Youth Mental Health First Aid (for adults to learn how to assist adolescents) and Teen Mental Health First Aid(for adolescents to learn how to assist their peers). In Australia, Canada and New Zealand, versions of the course have been developed for Indigenous peoples. In Australia, Mental Health First Aid training has also been adapted for delivery by eLearning.