Mental Health First Aid helps you:

  • Raise awareness and encourages understanding of ways which one’s cultural background can impact the discrimination associated with mental illness
  • Reach out to those who suffer in silence, reluctant to seek help
  • Break down the stigma associated with common mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and substance use disorders
  • Provide information on self-help strategies and campus and community resources
  • Make mental health care and treatment accessible to thousands in need

The program is listed in SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidenced Based Programs and Practices. Mental Health First Aid is a free, high-impact program that generates tremendous community awareness and support in San Diego County. This is possible through a grant Mental Health America of San Diego County received from the County of San Diego’s Health & Human Services Behavioral Health Services. Our trainings are FREE only within the central, north, south, east, rural and coastal regions of San Diego County. Participants who complete the course are certified for 3 years.

Adult Mental Health First Aid

Free Mental Health First Aid Training

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Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that introduces
participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental illnesses build
understanding of their impact, and overviews common supports.

This 8-hour course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to offer initial help in a mental health crisis and connect persons to the appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care. The program also teaches the common risk factors and warning signs of specific types of illnesses, like anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Youth Mental health First Aid is an 8 hour public education program which introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge.

Mental Health First Aid uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect young people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care.

The course teaches participants the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents, including anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders,AD/HD, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance use disorders.

Participants do not learn to diagnose, nor how to provide any therapy or counseling – rather, participants learn to support a youth developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis by applying a core five-step action plan.

The Youth Mental health First Aid USA curriculum is primarily focused on information participants can use to help adolescents and transition-age youth, ages 12-18.

The course is designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents (teacher, school staff, coaches, youth group leaders, parents, etc.), but is being tested for appropriateness within older adolescent groups (16 and older) so as to encourage youth peer to peer interaction.

Mental Health First Aid in Higher Education

College and University students have unique stress and risk factors to the demands of school; balance academic, social, and employments responsibilities while being independent and away from family, friends, and other supports – often for the first time.

Today, 40%of young adults age 18-24 are enrolled in a two or four year educational institution. Statistics show that 75% of mental illnesses develop before age 25, making colleges ideal locations for early identification. However, the number one reason students say they do not use mental health resources s lac of knowledge that those resources even exist.

Mental Health First Aid for High Educations designed with colleges’ and universities’ unique culture and resources in mind. Training students, faculty and others in higher education settings how to recognize the symptoms of emerging mental illnesses or to assist young adults in a mental health crisis can help lessen the severity and impact of mental illnesses.

The course includes:

  • A discussion of campus culture and its relevance to the topic of mental health
  • A discussion of the specific stress and risk factors faced by the higher education program
  • Applying an action plan in a number of scenarios designed specifically for faculty, administration and students.
  • A review of the mental health resources available on campus and through partnerships in the community

Mental Health Fist Aid for Higher Education is ideal for anyone who regularly interacts with students, both on and off campus, including: Students, Faculty, Resident Advisors, Campus clergy, Campus law enforcement, Academic Advisors, Counselors, Financial Aid employees, Coaches and athletic personnel, Administrators, Event staff, Librarians

Mental Health First Aid: Military Members, Veterans, and Their Families

While military service often fosters resilience in individuals and families, some may experience mental health or substance use challenges. It is essential that our communities be prepared to identify and support the more than 22 million veterans and their families who have served our country. Mental Health First Aid is a way to increase the level of baseline knowledge about mental health and substance use concerns and, if necessary, to help individuals get connected to care.

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 offers a simple combination of information and techniques for effective interventions. The module builds upon the effectiveness of the standard Mental Health First Aid curriculum by focusing on the unique experiences and needs of the military, veteran, and family population.

Key components of the module for military members, veterans, and their families include:

  • A discussion of military culture and its relevance to the topic of mental health
  • A discussion of the specific risk factors faced y many service members and their families such as trauma, both mental and physical, stress, separation, etc.
  • Applying an action plan in a number of scenarios designed specifically for service members, their families and those that support them
  • A review of common mental health resources for service members, their families and those who support them
Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety

This course is taught to police, sheriff deputies, correctional officers, and other public safety responders around the country. Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety provides officers with more response options to help them deescalate incidents and understand mental illnesses so they can respond to mental health related calls appropriately without compromising safety. Over 20,000 public safety professional have taken the course, including at police academies around the country, and numerous smaller and rural departments.


  • Law enforcement and correctional officers
  • 911 Dispatch staff
  • Human resources professionals
  • Business leaders
  • Nurses and other primary healthcare workers
  • Faith community leaders
  • Caring citizens

What is the difference between a 8-hour Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety Program and the 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team [CIT] Training?

CIT training is an excellent in-depth program that enjoys widespread adoption across the country, but not every department has the resources to train all officers or staff in the CIT Program, nor is every officer or staff member ready for this intensive certification. The goal of most departments is to have at least 25% of their force CIT trained.

Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety is a good compliment to CIT training – a training course for the 75% of officers or staff who are not CIT certified or may never be. Also, some police department use Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety as a compliment to their CIT program, training newer officers and those who express interest in joining the CIT team in Mental Health First Aid as a first step.