Which one is more important? Is there really a need for mental health first aid? Having been lucky enough to have the opportunity to train in both MHFA (Youth Mental Health First Aid) and Emergency First Aid I am going to give an insight of both as well as compare my experiences of both.

MHFA is the lesser known training of the two however since inception in 2007, interest has rapidly surged and teachers and even young people are being trained across the country more than ever. According to MHFA 88% of people use the first aid skills they learn during the course at least once!

 I had the opportunity through healthwatch Hillingdon to train in Youth MHFA over the Easter break. I was put with a group of 5 and we had two lovely trainers. As we were on the Youth pathway our training was specialised for us to be able to provide support for young people up to the age of 18. We were provided with a 151 page manual that although appears dense at first, recaps all the content throughout the course in a way that’s so clear I have found myself referring to it even after the course.

Depression, Anxiety and Suicide are some of the topics we explored in covered in depth alongside practical activities. These included creating a profile of a person with depression in groups, a Hearing Voices Exercise to experience psychosis and analysing a real life suicide note from a suicide attempt survivor. These were then followed by an ‘ALGEE’ which the practical side of what to do e.g. breathing exercise and listening non-judgmentally to someone experiencing a panic attack.

The Emergency First Aid took place at my school, unlike the MHFA there is a short assessment at the end before you get the certificat. I found this training to be much more hands on and practical than the MHFA because a concept such as choking for example needs less explanation for why people self harm. 

An example of a practical activity we had included carrying out chest compressions on a dummy, although some of the practical activities can be amusing in the moment the skills are crucial and like MHFA can prolong life as well as prevent the condition worsening.

Overall, I highly recommend both trainings, they are eye-opening and interesting but most importantly will equip you with the knowledge and practical skills so that you can support take quick action to a person who needs it.

MHFA England website:


Emergency First Aid: