Mental Health First Aid

We know that many of the Great Plains United Methodist churches participating in our Healthy Congregations program are working to address the impact of behavioral health needs in their congregations and communities, and we regularly hear that congregations need tools to help address these needs. We’re excited to offer a new opportunity for individuals from Healthy Congregations churches to participate in a special virtual Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training this fall at no cost.

Mental Health First Aid training is a proven and effective resource that teaches lay people how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders in their community. In this one-day, 6.5-hour online training, participants will learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and substance use concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help. The training helps anyone who wants to learn how to provide initial help to someone who may be experiencing symptoms of a mental illness or crisis, and provides tools to help friends, family members, colleagues, and others in the community.

Additionally, MHFA teaches about recovery and resiliency – the belief that individuals experiencing these challenges can and do get better, and can use their strengths to stay well. Trainees also learn how to apply the Mental Health First Aid action plan in a variety of situations, then practice through role play, scenarios, and activities — making it easier to apply these skills in a real-life situation.


  • How soon do I need to register for training? At least one week before the training date. Spaces are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • My church is active in Healthy Congregations but I’m not on the HC team. Can I sign up for this training? Yes! This is open to all members/staff of HC churches.
  • I don’t see my church in the list of Healthy Congregations on the registration form. Can I participate? Due to limited spaces, the Sept./Oct. trainings are reserved for current HC churches, but we plan future offerings. Please contact Dashinika@healthfund.org for help.
  • What is the time commitment? This training consists of 2 hours of self-paced pre-work and a 6.5 hour live virtual training (with breaks).

Register no later than one week prior to training date:
Sept. 23 for Sept. 30 training / Oct. 2 for Oct. 9 training
Registration details: see below

August 10 Informational Webinar Recording:

MHFA2 RSVP and Registration Form

Mental Health First Aid Training Registration

Please use the below form to register for one of the fall 2021 Mental Health First Aid virtual training dates. Note: more than one person per church may participate, but each will need to register individually.
My participating Healthy Congregations church: *
These MHFA trainings are reserved for individuals from churches already participating in Healthy Congregations. Please select your participating church using one of the above options.
Check this list of participating Healthy Congregations and select your church if it is listed. If you don't see your church, don't worry - complete the below and we'll follow up with you.
Address *
Which training session will you attend?
Each virtual session will be from 9 am - 3:30 pm with breaks including a half-hour lunch break. Please register no later than one week before your desired session.
(lay member, pastor, staff, committee leader, etc.)
(Optional) add any comments, notes, or questions you'd like us to see.

Why Mental Health First Aid?

“Most of us would know how to help if we saw someone having a heart attack—we’d start CPR, or at least call 9-1-1. But too few of us would know how to respond if we saw someone having a panic attack or if we were concerned that a friend or co-worker might be showing signs of alcoholism.

Mental Health First Aid takes the fear and hesitation out of starting conversations about mental health and substance use problems by improving understanding and providing an action plan that teaches people to safely and responsibly identify and address a potential mental illness or substance use disorder.

When more people are equipped with the tools they need to start a dialogue, more people can get the help they need. Mental Health First Aid can even save lives.”

Nearly one in five Americans has a mental illness or substance use disorder, yet many are reluctant to seek help or simply don’t know where to turn for care. Recognizing mental health and substance use challenges can be difficult, which is why it’s so important for everyone to understand the warning signs and risk factors. Even when friends and family of someone who may be developing a mental illness recognize that something is amiss, they may not know how to intervene or direct the person to proper treatment. All too often, those in need of mental health services do not get them until it is too late.

  • 64.1% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment ~ Mental Health America
  • 5.13% of youth report having a substance use or alcohol problem ~ Mental Health America
  • 1 in 5 teens and young adults lives with a mental health condition ~ National Alliance for Mental Illness
  • On average 123 people die by suicide each day ~ American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • From 1999-2016, 630,000 people died from drug overdose ~Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What You’ll Learn:

Before you can know how to help, you need to know when to help. This “mental health literacy” is a basic understanding of different mental illnesses and addictions, how they can affect a person’s daily life, and what promotes wellness in affected individuals. Training topics include: 

  • Common signs and symptoms of mental illness (including anxiety, depression, ADHD, psychosis)
  • Common signs and symptoms of substance use
  • How to interact with a person in crisis
  • How to connect the person with help
  • Content on trauma, substance abuse and self-care, and the impact of social media and bullying

Mental Health First Aid teaches how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The course introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health concerns, builds understanding of their impact and provides an overview of common treatments. Through role-playing and simulations, it demonstrates how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions; provide initial help; and connect people to professional, peer and social supports as well as self-help resources.

Trainees learn a five-step action plan (ALGEE) encompassing the skills, resources, and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professionals, and/or develop self care and coping strategies.

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm.
  • Listen nonjudgmentally.
  • Give reassurance and information.
  • Encourage appropriate professional help.
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

Mental Health First Aid encourages early detection and intervention by teaching participants about the signs and symptoms of specific illnesses like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and addictions. The program offers concrete tools and answers key questions like “What can I do?” and “Where can someone find help?” Participants are introduced to local mental health resources, national organizations, support groups and online tools for mental health and addiction treatment and support.

Mental Health First Aid USA is operated by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. Training is provided by certified Mental Health First Aid USA instructors who have completed a 5-day training and meet certification requirements.

© United Methodist Health Ministry Fund