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What is Mental Health First Aid? – Guest Blog by Clare Davis, Director of Nova Associates

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What do you think Mental Health first Aid is? When I tell people I am a Mental Health first Aid instructor, I often get asked, “Are you a counsellor” or “Are you a psychologist?”

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is not about fixing people. It is not about being a therapist. Regular (physical) First Aid courses teach you the initial help to give an injured person before professional help can be obtained. Its four aims are:

  • Preserve life
  • Prevent further harm
  • Promote recover
  • Provide comfort

If you were a physical first aider, and someone broke their leg, you would not take the X- Ray and put the plaster cast on the leg. You would simply sign post the person to a hospital to get the professional help.

Similarly, MHFA is the help given to someone experiencing a mental health issue before professional help is received. This may be a crisis situation or when a person is developing a mental health issue. MHFA may be the very first early intervention. The MHFA course aims to demystify the whole topic of mental health, mental health issues and mental illness, to increase mental health literacy and decrease the stigma.

As Mental Health First Aiders, we are not here to FIX people. Our aim is to spot the signs, have the conversations and signpost. We are here to support. So often companies do not recognise the need to have conversations. Early intervention is important for the road to recovery. The workplace is where we spend so much of our time. If we can spot the signs and support people, they will be on a quicker road to recovery with early intervention.

This week I ran a 2-day Mental Health First Aid Course to a male dominated company. The men I was training all had teams who work in isolation, some not seeing people for days on end. They said it was very difficult to open up conversations, with many of their team members covering up their emotions with humour and ‘taking the mickey’ out of one another. During the 2 days, their consensus was that most of their teams were struggling. Most were working long hours, drinking too much, not sleeping enough and ‘burning the candle at both ends’ to cope with the everyday pressures. We went through a strategy on how to have conversations, how to support their teams and how to use preventative measures to help their teams with their emotional fitness.

My aim is to open up conversations and intervene early to help people on the road to recovery.  I do this by running Mental Health training in companies. The courses range from Mental Health First Aid, Mental Health Awareness, Having Mental Health Conversations Confidently, Positive Emotional Fitness – Using Preventative Measures in the Workplace.

I also have a YouTube and Podcast called Mental Health Chats. Subscribe to my YouTube channel, or follow my podcast There are different series with guests from all over the world. The topics range from Men’s Mental Health to Suicide to Teens and Young People. Let’s open up conversations and help those in need.

I am also excited to announce the launch of my Positive Mental Health Book, “Emotional Fitness: A-Z for Positive Mental Health.” The self-help book will be launched on 12th October 2020. To order now, email me on

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