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Scotland's Mental Health First Aid (SMHFA) Programme


Mental Health First Aid was originally developed in Australia and is based on the concept of general first aid training. It is an evidenced based course developed by Betty Kitchener and Professor Tony Jorm with the aim of improving an understanding of mental health.

After a successful pilot in Scotland, the Scottish Executive, through Health Scotland, invested in the national rollout of courses. The course has been adapted to better suit the needs of the people in Scotland and is delivered as Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid (SMHFA).

Formal evaluations carried out in Australia and more recently in Scotland, have shown that people who attended this course improved their confidence and ability to help others, improved their knowledge and reduced negative attitudes they may have had about mental health problems. It also improved their own mental health.

Alpha Plus Training has been approved to deliver the SMHFA course in Scotland.

SMHFA Training in the Workplace

SMHFA is a relatively new, but important topic for training as it gives participants an additional set of skills for supporting staff in the workplace. In addition, SMHFA training offers an insight into mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, alcohol misuse etc. It gives people the tools and techniques to promote recovery in the optimum way.

Course Aims

Scotland's Mental Health First Aid aims to help participants:

  • Preserve life where a person may be a danger to themselves or others
  • Provide help to prevent a mental health problem developing into a more serious state
  • Promote recovery of good mental health
  • Provide comfort to a person suffering a mental health illness

and will teach them to:

  • Give initial help to someone experiencing a mental health problem
  • Deal with a crisis situation or the first signs of someone developing mental ill health
  • Guide people towards appropriate professional help.

The course does not train participants to be therapists, counsellors or mental health professionals.

Course Programme

The course covers a number of topics including:

  • What is meant by mental health / mental ill-health
  • The signs and symptoms of common mental health problems including anxiety disorders, depression, self-harm, drug & alcohol misuse
  • The range of effective interventions and treatments
  • How to access help and support.

The course can be delivered either:

  • Over two consecutive days
  • One day a week for two weeks
  • In four three-hour long sessions

and will consist of a mix of presentations, activities and discussions.

Participants will receive a certificate of attendance and a copy of the SMHFA Manual, which covers the course content.