Why should I become a Mental Health First Aider?

 In MHFA, MHFAfSP, SMHFA, YMHFA

So, you’ve gone through the 14-hour hour Youth Mental Health First Aid Training provided by Hero Town. You might be feeling all mental health-ed out by now – but your journey doesn’t end here! In fact, it’s just beginning. Your journey as a Mental Health First Aider, if you should choose to accept it, begins when you complete the brief post-training quiz received by email and you receive your accreditation.

So what’s different about being an MHFAider?

In addition to the knowledge and resources that you have received through your time in the course, you can also choose to be accreditated as a Mental Health First Aider. This provides you with the full certification that is offered as part of MHFA, and permits you to act as the first point of contact in the event of a person needing assistance with a mental health concern or a crisis.

Completing your MHFAider accreditation also permits you to be appointed as the Mental Health First Aid Officer in your workplace. The role of the MHFA officer is to provide MHFA in the workplace when it is required at the officer’s level of competence and training, and to direct any matters regarding mental health to relevant organisational policies and procedures where it is deemed relevant.

 

Can an MHFAider be liable for assistance provided to a person?

In a situation where a person is in need of Mental Health First Aid, assistance should be provided where possible according to the guidelines in your MHFA manual. In a situation where the MHFAider is acting on behalf of a workplace they are employed at or a volunteer organisation, that it is important to keep in mind the process of referral, handover and duty of care. Mental Health First Aid Australia elaborates on this:

In a crisis situation, an MHFAider should stay with the person until appropriate treatment and support are received, or the crisis resolves. If the person is not acutely unwell, then it is their choice whether they go on to seek professional help and all an MHFAider can do is encourage them to do so.

At first, and especially in crisis situations, it can be difficult to know when to act in fear of making the situation worse. Making sure to abide by the ALGEE action plan, and redirecting the person to appropriate professional help as soon as possible, should help to ensure that the person gets the assistance they need.

It’s also important to remember that Good Samaritan laws exist in Australia to protect those who act as volunteers and first aiders. A person who acts in good faith to provide assistance to someone who is unwell or injured is protected. For Victorian MHFAiders, you can review the law at the Australasian Legal Information Institute.

Any other information I should know?

The MHFAider certification needs to be updated every 3 years. Thankfully, you do not need to repeat the full MHFA course to keep your certification. A shorter, refresher accreditation will be available when it is time to update your accreditation.

You can find even more information regarding MHFA accreditation at the FAQ for Mental Health First Aid Australia.

Steph Downing
Stephanie Downing is the administrative assistant for Hero Town Geelong. Born and raised in Geelong, Australia, Stephanie is a graduate of Deakin University with her Honours degree in Professional and Creative Writing. She adores words of all sorts and is especially infatuated with the medium of poetry and fiction, with publications of her work being featured in magazines such as WORDLY Magazine, Plumwood Mountain Journal and Cordite Poetry Review.
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