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MHFA Evidence Base

Over the past 15 years, MHFA has undergone extensive evaluation. We are very proud of the results.

Evidence for MHFA Effectiveness

Mental Health First Aid is an international program proven to be effective. Peer-reviewed studies published in multiple countries including Australia, where the program originated, show that individuals trained in the program:

  • Increase their knowledge of signs, symptoms and risk factors of mental health problems
  • Decrease the social distance between themselves and someone with a mental health problem
  • Increase their confidence to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis
  • Can identify professional and self-help resources for individuals with a mental health problem
  • Show increased mental wellness themselves

 

PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY OF CANADA - BEST PRACTICES PORTAL

Mental Health First Aid Canada is included on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Best Practices Portal where it is classified as a best practice, meaning it has:

  • High Impact - positive changes related to the desired goal(s).
  • High Adaptability - successful adaptation and transferability to different settings.
  • High Quality of Evidence - excellent quality of research/evaluation methodology, confirming the intervention's high impact and adaptability evidence.

 

To read more about MHFA as a best practice, click here.

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Since 2002, MHFA has been delivered to diverse groups and been the subject of evaluation and assessment studies from many perspectives.  Below and attached are a number of the studies that have been completed:

 

Mental Health First Aid is an effective public health intervention for improving knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour: A meta-analysis

Hadlaczky G, Hokby S, Mkrtchian A, Carli V, Wassmerman D. Mental Health First Aid is an effective public health intervention for improving knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour: A meta-analysisInternational Review of Psychiatry, 2014; 4; 467-475.

The paper aimed to synthesize published evaluations of the MHFA programme in a meta-analysis to estimate its effects and potential as a public mental health awareness-increasing strategy. Fifteen relevant papers were identified through a systematic literature search. Standardized effect sizes were calculated for three different outcome measures: change in knowledge, attitudes, and helping behaviours. Standardized effect sizes were calculated for three different outcome measures: change in knowledge, attitudes and helping behaviors. Mean effect sizes were 0.56 for knowledge, 0.28 for attitudes, and 0.25 for behaviors, indicating that MHFA training had a medium effect on changing knowledge and small effects on influencing attitudes and behaviors. Thus findings from the meta-analysis indicate promising gains among individuals trained in MHFA, particularly in knowledge, and possibly in attitudes and helping behavior. The results demonstrate that MHFA increases participants' knowledge regarding mental health, decreases their negative attitudes, and increases supportive behaviours toward individuals with mental health problems.

 

Evaluating the effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid training among student affairs staff at a Canadian university

Massey J, Brooks M, Burrow, J. Evaluating the effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid training among student affairs staff at a Canadian universityJournal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 2014; 51:3; 323–336.

This study evaluated the effectiveness of providing the Mental Health First Aid training program to student affairs staff. The objective of the training was to increase knowledge of mental health, enhance sensitivity, and raise confidence to intervene and assist individuals experiencing a mental health issue. Results demonstrated that the training successfully met its objectives and offers great potential to student affairs practitioners.

 

Promoting well-being and reducing stigma about mental health in the fire service

Moffitt J, Bostock J, Cave A. Promoting well-being and reducing stigma about mental health in the fire serviceJournal of Public Mental Health, 2014; 13; 103-113.

This study evaluated the impact of three mental health promotion interventions, including MHFA, on attitudes and knowledge towards mental health in fire service managers at Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service in the UK. The results from this study indicated that providing MHFA was considered helpful by managers in the Fire Service and had positive outcomes for attitudes and understanding about mental health. Specifically, the MHFA course was associated with statistically significant improvements in attitudes to mental illness and knowledge/self-efficacy around mental health.

 

Mental Health First Aid USA in a rural community: Perceived impact on knowledge, attitudes and behavior
Mendenhall AN, Jackson SC, Hase S. Mental Health First Aid USA in a rural community: Perceived impact on knowledge, attitudes and behavior. Social Work in Mental Health, 2013; 11:6; 563-577.

This study investigated the perceived impact of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) on individuals who took the class through a community mental health center in rural Kansas. One hundred and seventy-six MHFA graduates completed an online survey assessing their perception of the impact of completing the MHFA course. Findings corresponded with previous Australian MHFA studies that found outcomes including improved mental health literacy and changed attitudes and behaviors, but the study sample limits generalizability.