Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a groundbreaking public education program which introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments. MHFA is an 8-hour course, which uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect persons to professional, peer, social, and self-help care. The program also teaches about the risk factors and warning signs of specific illnesses like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and addictions.

MHFA is the initial help given to someone who may be developing a mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis. The aid provided is not a substitute for professional help, but may help in stabilizing the person until appropriate professional or other assistance can be engaged. This one day 8-hour certification course teaches non-mental health professionals how to give first aid to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis and/or who are in the early stages of a mental health disorder. Participants learn the sign and symptoms of the most common mental health problems, where and when to get help, and types of help shown to be effective.

As part of the City's Thrive NYC initiative, the NYC Department of Health is offering free Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to all New Yorkers. MHFA is a groundbreaking public education program that teaches the skills needed to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental health and substance abuse challenges and crises.