MHFA – Nursing and Medicine

MHFA for Medical and Nursing Students

Mental health first aid is the help provided to a person who is developing a mental health problem, or who is in a mental health crisis, until appropriate professional treatment is received or the crisis resolves. Mental health first aid strategies are taught in evidence-based training programs authored by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Australia and conducted by accredited MHFA Instructors across Australia.

The Mental Health First Aid Courses for Medical and Nursing Students are for adults studying medicine or nursing or who have recently graduated from their medical or nursing studies. The focus of the courses is how to help their fellow students, though course participants will learn mental health first aid skills that can be applied to help any adult.

What the course covers:

The courses teach medical and nursing students how to assist a peer who is developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. Course participants learn about  the signs and symptoms of the common and disabling mental health problems, how to give initial help, where and how to get professional help, what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective, and how to provide first aid in a crisis situation.

These student courses are tailored versions of the 12-hour Standard MHFA Course, the content of which is derived from a number of consensus studies incorporating the expertise of hundreds of researchers, clinicians, mental health consumer advocates and carer advocates across the English speaking western world (more info on MHFA Guidelines). Expert working groups of medical and nursing professional have guided the tailoring process.

Developing mental health problems covered are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety problems
  • Psychosis
  • Substance use problems
  • Eating disorders
Mental health crisis situations covered are:

  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviours
  • Non-suicidal self-injury (sometimes called deliberate self-harm)
  • Panic attacks
  • Traumatic events
  • Severe effects of drug or alcohol use
  • Severe psychotic states

All MHFA Courses teach how to give mental health first aid using the MHFA Action Plan ALGEE. More information about ALGEE.


13-hour face-to-face course

eLearning, self-paced

The face-to-face course can be delivered as either a 2-day training package or separately as 4-5 modules.ORThe eLearning course is self-paced and takes about 6-8 hours to complete.
To find a course see below.Directly enrol online.

All course participants receive a copy of the Standard MHFA Manual, a supplementary MHFA booklet for medical or nursing students and a Certificate of Completion.

Finding a face-to-face course

MHFA does not centrally coordinate the face-to-face courses. Check with your TAFE or university to see if they are offering the course. You can also contact any of the endorsed Standard MHFA instructors listed on the Instructor page to arrange a course in your area. Instructors also advertise their courses at our course calendar.

Endorsed MHFA Instructors will have either of these symbols next to their names


Until June 2014, there is no cost to a medical student or nursing student to complete these tailored courses. After June 2014, endorsed MHFA Instructors may need to charge a fee to cover course costs.


Read more testimonials from Monash students and further info about the roll-out of these courses at Monash University on the MHFA Blog here.

More Information

This course is part of an initiative, funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) until June 2014, that aims to train frontline community workers to better identify and respond to the needs of people at risk of suicide. More info on the DoHA website here.

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