Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) was first developed in Australia by Betty Kitchener and her husband Professor Anthony Jorm. Like most brilliant ideas it came about in a very ordinary way. Betty and Tony were walking their dog one day when they realised that there was no mental health equivalent of physical first aid. This germ of an idea led to an internationally recognised programme of simple steps that can be used to help a person in distress.

In 2003 Betty Kitchener brought the course over to Scotland and trained a number of instructors who then piloted the course throughout Scotland.

Such was the enthusiastic response to the Australian course that the formerly named Scottish Executive funded the development of a Scottish course based on MHFA principles.

In 2004 Scottish materials were developed and the National Training Team was commissioned to begin training instructors from all over Scotland.

In 2005 – 2008 the National Training team took the course to England (external link) and Wales (external link) and helped train each country’s National Training team. They were also involved in training for a cross border pilot initiative using MHFA in Northern Ireland and Eire.

In 2007, after a very successful independent evaluation, the process of updating the original materials was begun to reflect feedback in the evaluation and changes in mental health knowledge. In March 2009 the new materials were launched and all current instructors went through a refresher course on the use of the new materials.

SMHFA: YP  was developed to meet the increasing demand for a similar type approach for adults who support or care for young people aged between 11 and 17.  SMHFA: YP is a 14-hour blended course which is designed to support all adults to recognise mental health problems and provide guidance and immediate assistance to a young person in crisis. SMHFA: YP was launched in 2013.

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