Frequently Asked Questions for New First Aiders

How long does my certification last?

You are certified for three years, but you can take a refresher any time you want. You can renew your certification by attending another class or taking a quick webinar at www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.

Do I have to use Mental Health First Aid?

No. You are not obligated to use what you learn in Mental Health First Aid, and you should always put your own safety first when you are considering using MHFA. If you do decide to use MHFA, you are covered by the Good Samaritan law, which protects physical first aiders as well. Use MHFA when it is appropriate and safe!

What if someone doesn’t want my help?

At the end of the day, you are not responsible for others (except to the extent that your profession might require you to intervene). Persistence can be helpful, and so can giving a person many options, like calling or texting the Colorado Crisis Line, attending a support group, or learning to meditate with an app on their phone. If a young person doesn’t want help, a conversation with their parents or school counselor could be productive. If parents don’t want help for their child, a young person 15 or older can seek outpatient treatment independently. This doesn’t include medication or inpatient treatment, but it might be a good place to start. Often, it takes time for someone to come to terms with a solution on their own. Be patient!

Are there more advanced or specific suicide prevention programs?

Yes! Mental Health First Aid is a great place to start because we cover the basics of a broad spectrum of situations you might encounter, but trainings like QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer), Working Minds (workplace Suicide Prevention) and Safe2Tell can give you more specific resources for suicide prevention. If you’re looking for a Mental Health First Aid class tailored to specific audience, like law enforcement or military veterans, check out our guide to types of MHFA here.

How do I organize a training for my organization/business/church etc. ?

Shoot an email to algee@mhfaco.org with your questions! We will connect you with a MHFA coordinator or instructor team close to your community. Usually an organization can host an internal training for 15-35 people at a time.

What about my mental health?

We’re so glad you asked! Self-care is incredibly important for first aiders. Check out this map with all of our amazing community mental health centers in Colorado! You can access more information about local resources and Colorado Crisis Services here. If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If you identify as male (or if you want to see what the fuss is all about), check out the good stuff from our friends at Man Therapy here.

Can I become a Mental Health First Aid instructor?

Yes. It helps if you’re an experienced teacher, group facilitator, or public speaker, and if you’re familiar with behavioral health services in your area. MHFACO hosts two instructor trainings per year, and Project AWARE offers an instructor training for Youth MHFA instructors. You can find other trainings through the National Council for Behavioral Health at www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.

Is there an age requirement to be certified as a MH First Aider?

The minimum age is 18, but for many young people, the material in the MHFA curriculum makes them feel personally responsible for the well-being of those around them. A conversation with parents or mentors of a young person is often necessary to determine whether it would be appropriate for a young person to take Mental Health First Aid.