Mental Health First Aid

The next Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course will be held in December. Thank you to everyone who expressed interest in this course. The next session will be held in February 2019. Expressions of interest will open shortly. Please subscribe to the Arts Wellbeing Collective eNews to be the first to know!

MHFA is the help provided to a person who is developing a mental health problem, or who is in a mental health crisis (for example, the person is suicidal or has had a traumatic experience). Like physical first aid, mental health first aid is given until the person receives professional help or until the crisis resolves.

MHFA aid strategies are taught in evidence-based training courses authored by Mental Health First Aid Australia. The Arts Wellbeing Collective offers the 4th Edition Standard Mental Health First Aid Course. This course has been developed by Mental Health First Aid Australia, and customised by accredited MHFA Instructors from Arts Centre Melbourne to incorporate arts industry specific information.

Course content is derived from a number of consensus studies incorporating the expertise of hundreds of researchers, clinicians, mental health consumer advocates and carer advocates across the English speaking western world.

MHFA courses can provide you with:

  • Skills in how to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health problems;
  • Knowledge of the possible causes or risk factors for these mental health problems;
  • Awareness of the evidenced based medical, psychological and alternative treatments available;
  • Skills in how to give appropriate initial help and support someone experiencing a mental health problem; and
  • Skills in how to take appropriate action if a crisis situation arises involving suicidal behaviour, panic attack, stress reaction to trauma, overdose or threatening psychotic behaviour.

The Arts Wellbeing Collective identified a need for MHFA to be delivered in the industry in order to:

  • Help address common misunderstandings and mythology around mental health problems in the industry and wider community;
  • Give skills for participants to spot signs and symptoms of possible mental health problems in colleagues, cast, crew and creatives;
  • Raise awareness and understanding of common mental health problems prevalent in the arts industry (including depressive disorders, anxiety, suicide ideation and substance use); and
  • Create ambassadors for positive mental health in the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

If my Expression of Interest is successful, what is the cost of attending the course?

There is no fee to attend the course. The cost of the course and all materials is covered by WorkSafe Victoria through the Mental Health Improvement Fund. It is highly unusual for this accredited course to be offered without cost to the attendee. We ask that you only submit an Expression of Interest if you are confident you will be able to attend and actively participate in the course.

What mental health problems are discussed?

Developing mental health problems covered are:
• Depression
• Anxiety problems
• Psychosis
• Substance use problems.

Mental health crisis situations covered are:
• Suicidal thoughts and behaviours
• Panic attacks
• Traumatic events
• Severe effects of drug or alcohol use
• Severe psychotic states
• Aggressive behaviours.

I am personally experiencing mental health problems. Can I still apply?

The MHFA course is not a therapy or support group or a post-vention course, rather it is an education course to learn how to give first aid to others. Whilst personal experience with mental health problems can give you a valuable perspective as a Mental Health First Aider, it is preferable that you have enjoyed good mental health for the 12 months prior to submitting an Expression of Interest to attend the training. The course can be intense and exhausting for participants. With this in mind, you and your mental health professional are the experts on your mental health, so you are the one to make the call about whether or not this is the right time for you to apply.

Please note this course is not a therapy or support group or a post-vention course, rather it is an education course to learn how to give first aid to others. For more information, visit

Mental Health First Aid: Expression of Interest – opening soon for 2019

The Arts Wellbeing Collective is committed to ensuring that our accredited Mental Health First Aiders represent the diversity of the performing arts industry. We strongly encourage expressions of interest from applicants with a variety of experiences, knowledge and perspectives, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, culturally and linguistically diverse, gender diverse and LGBTIQ practitioners.

Please note – if you are predominantly assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who are experiencing mental health problems, you may wish to attend Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid. The Arts Wellbeing Collective will be scheduling this course in the coming months.