Mental Health First Aid Summit – Summary
We would like to thank the more than 50 instructors, trainers and administrators of MHFA-USA who
attended the first Mental Health First Aid Instructors Summit in Orlando, FL on March 17. Everyone
helped to make the session very engaging and informative for us all, and we look forward to having
another session in the future.
After introductions, Alicia Lucksted from the University of Maryland led a discussion of our work on the
certification standards, the importance of and vision for the evaluation of the program in the US, and
the importance fidelity to the Australian model plays in the quality of the program. The certification
standards clarify and streamline the process for individuals to attain and maintain certification in Mental
Health First Aid, become and continue to be certified instructors, and the process to become a trainer of
instructors for the program. We will post the final certification standards on the Technical Assistance
website when they are finalized, which is projected for the spring/summer of 2010. In the meantime,
we have developed Tenets of Fidelity as an additional guide for instructors on this matter.
The summit also featured a preview of the new features of the revamped website. In short, the goal of
this new site is to centralize all your MHFA web activity in one area - including being able to post and
advertise for specific upcoming courses, upload post-course evaluation online, access reports on your
courses, and to connect more easily with the instructor network. We will walk through a full preview of
this site upon its release in the coming months.
MHFA-USA trainer Larry Fricks led a discussion on the ways in which MHFA supports the work of the
recovery movement and clarified the importance of and roles of certified peer specialists.
The second half of the summit involved focused discussion on ideas for marketing and sustaining a
Mental Health First Aid program and then ideas for working with specific populations. Instructors
shared their experiences with a variety of funding sources, marketing presentations and ideas, and other
strategies. A point of note made by many instructors revolved around the multiple roles instructors
must often play in promoting & presenting the course – business development, marketing, public
relations/communications, event/logistics planner, and of course presenter. Discussions revolved
around these points, and varied depending on the organizational supports the instructors may or may
not have had.
Notes from these discussions, by general topic area:
Building Community Support & Awareness
• Instructors can serve on committees/boards for local community groups as a way to strengthen
partnerships with a variety of community organizations, such as:
o Human services agencies, service organizations (Kiwanis, etc), first responder groups,
clinicians, the Department of Aging, Faith-based organizations, homeless shelters,
volunteer organizations, advocacy groups/NAMI, primary care/nurses/CNAs, university
groups (Resident Assitants, etc), other groups which require certification/training.
• Offer an individual from a target group/key influencer from an audience to a course for free as a
preview to elicit further interest in the course.
• Invite local media to attend all or part of the course to garner local coverage of the course.
• Instructors from Associations may offer the training as support to their members.
• Consideration for when selling the course to groups: always have an answer to the following –
why the group you are meeting with needs the training.
• Connect with those who provide other similar training in your area (CIT, ASSIST, Psychological
First Aid, etc) to let them know of the differences between the programs & make sure they are
aware of your activities.
• Leverage existing professional contacts if providing course to audience where you have worked.
Begin with familiar audience to be comfortable providing course & being able to anticipate and
answer questions & then expand to less familiar groups.
• With any target group, seek commitment from leadership first, as they will be the core to
advocate the training to group.
Determining Sustainable Cost Structure
• Many instructors who were in attendance sustain the program by calculating all the costs to
conduct the course (materials, food, instructor’s time) as a budget & then determining pricing
and providing as a fee-for-service by both total group and per person costs.
• Develop a ‘tiered’ pricing structure for your use. Advertise the highest price, with note that
scholarship/partial scholarship may be available. Levels recommended for regular, discount
(slightly less), government/nonprofit/etc, at cost, scholarship. Work with those who plan to
schedule more trainings for a volume discount or are not able to afford the higher price to offer
one of the lower levels (as you are able).
• If you work at an organization that contracts with an insurance company, they may have a public
service budget to support a training or two.
• Many instructors mentioned seeking grants – corporate, foundation & other.
• NAMI Phoenix is providing the course to the VA with no cost and for family members free of
charge. Other instructors are able to do so if hosting in facility which is used for free & they
already own AV needed & don’t provide snacks. Sometimes charge minimal fee ($10) to cover
• Grants to support program in general or only specific pieces – manuals, lunches/snacks, AV
Scheduling & Participant Recruitment/Retention
• Most conduct as two 6-hour sessions, some provide as four 3-hour sessions. One conducted as
one full day (8 hours) plus a half day (4 hours), but would not recommend. Instructors who have
tried conducting the program as three 4-Hour sessions did not find it to work well to try and
break up the course into different sections this way.
• Avoid scheduling on Friday afternoon to avoid drop off
• Offering on weekends (two full days on Saturday & Sunday, or two consecutive Saturdays)
worked well for a number of instructors who were present.
• Develop standard welcome/introductory letter when participants register for the course which
provides overview of expectations.
• Determine if CEs are valuable to you audience & apply for them if deemed important.
• Always follow-up with participants to increase engagement with organization/group in general.
• Keep at 24 maximum to be able to adequately manage group interest/interaction
• Acknowledge/be aware of the mix of the audience (if general community) – good to use “getting
to know you” form ahead of time, in introductions of class, and round robin at end of class.
General Marketing Ideas
• Instructor in Florida invested in some Search Engine Optimization for local web traffic to find her
courses. Suggests connecting with community college/students to reduce costs in this process,
but depending on audience, may recommend putting more effort into enhancing web efforts (if
audience is heavy user of internet).
• National Council shared copies of the new Mental Health First Aid-USA brochure, now available
from the marketing materials page of the technical assistance website. Instructors suggested
printing own copies & also distributing electronically as part of information distribution to target
groups or interested individuals
• MHFA-USA will draft and post standard language to describe the differences between Mental
Health First Aid and other similar trainings.
• Post upcoming training announcements to community/local list serves you may be on to garner
• Use social media (if appropriate to audience) to post training announcements & explain course
to audience/introduce yourself
o YouTube video in OK has instructor explaining course & then interviews with others
about the meaning/importance of taking the training (interviews conducted post-
o Post courses on facebook page, invite participants to become a fan of your trainings on
your page to stay in contact/strengthen their ongoing support (or direct them to main