The SMHFA programme

The SMHFA course takes 12 hours to complete. It can be presented in a range of formats to suit different groups. The course must be presented by a qualified SMHFA instructor and quality is continuously monitored by NHS Health Scotland.

The course can be presented in the following formats:

  • 2 full days
  • 4 half days
  • 6 two-hour sessions.

The following is a brief outline of what is covered on the course:

  • guidance on being a Mental Health First Aider
  • attitudes to mental health issues
  • equalities
  • the recovery message
  • the impact of alcohol and drugs on mental health
  • introduction to suicide intervention
  • listening skills
  • understanding depression
  • how to offer first aid to someone experiencing depression
  • understanding anxiety
  • how to offer first aid to someone experiencing anxiety
  • understanding psychosis
  • how to offer first aid to someone experiencing a psychotic episode.

The course does not train people to be mental health workers. It offers basic general information about mental health problems. The knowledge presented and understanding developed in the course helps to remove stigma and fear and to give confidence in approaching a person in distress.

Mental Health First Aid is an initial response to distress and all participants on the course understand that this help is given only until other suitable or professional help can be found

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