Mental Health First Aid program


One of Monash Residential Services' mission and goals is to provide and develop an environment within each location on campus which provides care, support and enrichment for the residential community in academic, cultural, personal, social and recreational matters.

In keeping with these goals, MRS instituted Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training into its core training programs in 2007 and invited all MRS general staff, residential support staff and student volunteers (i.e., Resident Advisors) to become trained. Training became mandatory in 2008 for all MRS general staff and MRS Residential Support Team members (Resident Advisors, College Heads, Deputy College Heads and Residential Support Assistants).

In recognition of the value of the MHFA program, a number of members of the Residential Support Team staff are qualified MHFA instructors and present the course.

MRS is very proud of the impact our mental health program have had on our entire communities, with residents overwhelmingly feeling that living on campus has improved their mental health and wellbeing.

Gold Skilled Workplace accreditation logo
From its initiation by MHFA Australia in 2016, MRS has also been a proudly been an accredited ‘Gold Skilled Workplace’ - in recognition of the training and support provided to our staff.

In 2012 MRS added the safeTALK suicide alertness to the training regime. safeTALK assists participants in become more aware of the signs of suicidal thoughts, and help them develop skills to approach people and connect them with appropriate services.

Cohort Numbers trained in MHFA since 2007
Staff/Other 301
Students 3,316
Total 3,622
  Numbers trained in safeTALK since 2012
Staff/Other 79
Students 1042
Total 1121

Figures correct as at December 2020

Gold Skilled Workplace accreditation logo

Overview of MHFA program

Each year 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness. Many people are not knowledgeable or confident to offer assistance. Physical first aid is accepted and widespread in our community, however most do not cover mental health problems. This ignorance adds to stigmatising attitudes and prevents people from seeking help early and seeking the best sort of help. It also prevents people providing appropriate support to colleagues and family members, simply because they do not know how. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) teaches people the skills to help someone who they're concerned about.

The Mental Health First Aid Program was developed in 2000 at the centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University by Betty Kitchener and Professor Tony Jorm following the model that has been successfully applied in many countries with conventional first aid. Since this time, MHFA training has spread to every state and territory in Australia and internationally, currently to over 25 countries.

Visit the MHFA Australia website for more information. 

The program has been well evaluated and found to be effective in improving mental health literacy, reducing stigma and increasing helping behaviours. First Aid is the help given to an injured person before medical treatment can be obtained. Mental Health First Aid is the initial help given to someone developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate professional treatment is received or until the crisis resolves.

Intended outcomes

There are many reasons why people benefit from Mental Health First Aid Training:

  • Mental health problems are common
  • There is a stigma associated with mental health problems
  • Many people do not recognise mental health problems
  • Professional help is not always available
  • Many people do not know how to help

Course content

The course covers helping people in mental health crisis situations and/or in the early stages of mental health problems. Crisis situations covered are:

  • Suicidal behaviours
  • Acute stress reaction
  • Panic attacks
  • Acute psychotic behaviour

Other mental health problems covered are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder

Participants will learn the signs and symptoms of these mental health problems, where and how to get help and what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective.

Overview of safeTALK program

safetalk logo

SafeTALK is an internationally recognised program which increases suicide alertness and helps you become active in preventing suicide and promoting life. Those who complete the program will learn how to recognise and engage others who might be having thoughts of suicide and to connect them with further suicide intervention help.

Most people with thoughts of suicide, either directly or indirectly invite help to stay safe. Alert helpers know how to identify and work with these opportunities to help protect life. SafeTALK stresses safety whilst challenging beliefs that inhibit open talk about suicide.

Intended outcomes

1. Learn skills to contribute to building a suicide safer community

2. Challenge attitudes that inhibit open talk about suicide

3. Notice and respond to situations where thoughts of suicide might be present, and

4. Move quickly to connect the person with thoughts of suicide with someone trained in suicide intervention.