Mental Health First Aid
To register, please contact:
Primary and support staff of community health centers, rural health clinics and anyone whose job includes patient/client contact (law enforcement, community workers, case managers); and, also for members of the general public.
Recognize the potential risk factors and warning signs for a range of mental health problems, including: depression, anxiety/trauma, psychosis and psychotic disorders, substance use disorders, and self-injury.
Use a 5-step action plan to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional help.
Interpret the prevalence of various mental health disorders in the U.S. and the need for reduced negative attitudes in their communities.
Apply knowledge of the appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help resources available to help someone with a mental health problem treat and manage the problem and achieve recovery.
Assess your own views and feelings about mental health problems and disorders.
Provide evidence based curriculum to improve skills and increase confidence in identifying and helping someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis; and, to decrease stigmatizing attitudes, with the end goal of improving patient outcomes.
What is MHFA?
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an 8 hour training designed to provide the key skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Just as CPR helps a layperson assist an individual following a heart attack, MHFA help a layperson assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis. The training teaches participants to recognize risk factors and warning signs for a range of mental health problems; and, use a 5 step action plan to help an individual in crisis.
The evidence behind MHFA demonstrates it makes people feel more comfortable managing a crisis situation and builds mental health literacy – helping the public identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness. Specifically, studies found that those trained in MHFA have greater confidence in providing help to others, greater likelihood of advising people to seek professional help, improved concordance with health professionals about treatments, and decreased stigmatizing attitudes.
Mental Health First Aid was originally created in Australia in 2001 under the auspices of the University of Melbourne, and is now international with programs in countries such as the United Kingdom, China, Canada, Finland and Singapore. The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare – a national trade group with 1,300 member organizations serve six million Americans nationwide – brought Mental Health First Aid to the United States in 2008 with the goal of making it as common in 10 years as traditional First Aid and CPR are today. The National Council originally selected the program because of its rigorous research backing. Mental Health First Aid has strong evidence backing it. Three quantitative and one qualitative studies have shown that the program:
- improves people’s mental health
- increases understanding of mental health issues and treatments
- connects more people with care
- reduces stigma
Mental Health First Aid is an international program with proven effectiveness. Five published studies in Australia show that the program saves lives, improves the mental health of the individual administering care and the one receiving it, expands knowledge of mental illnesses and their treatments, increases the services provided and reduces overall stigma by improving mental health “literacy”. Mental health literacy is defined as empowering the public to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness. Studies also found the program reduces overall stigma of mental health and even improves the mental health of program participants. A list of relevant international studies can be found at https://www.mhfa.com.au/cms/evaluationpublications/.
Gaps and areas identified for improvement in this curriculum include: identification of early signs of mental health problems; confidence in ability to manage a mental health crisis situation; ability to effectively provide help and/or refer to other professionals/support services; attitude – increase understanding of patient experience and decrease stigma.
Peggy Stecklein LISW, MSW
Program Manager, Iowa Primary Care Association; Certified MHFA Instructor
Credentials and Education
- Iowa Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) #03826
- Certified Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Instructor
- MSW 1996; University of Iowa, School of Social Work
- BSW and BA in Sociology 1981; Clarke College, Dubuque, IA
- Program Manager - Iowa Primary Care Association; Urbandale, IA; 2013 to present
- Community Health Coordinator - Dallas County Public Health Nursing; Adel, IA; 2008 to 2013
- Executive Director - AIDS Project of Central Iowa; 711 E. 2nd St., Des Moines, IA; 2003 to 2008
- Director of Refugee & Aging - Lutheran Services in Iowa, Des Moines, IA; 2000 to 2003
- Medical Social Worker - Dallas County Public Health Nursing, Perry, IA; 1996 to 2000
Julie Baker, MPA
HIV, STD, HCV Precention Services Testing Manger, Special Populations Point of Contact, Iowa Primary Care Association
Credentials and Education
- MPA 2014; Drake University; Des Moines, IA
- BA in Human Services and Psychology 2001; Buena Vista University; Marshalltown Campus; Marshalltown, IA
- Certified Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Instructor
- Certified State of Iowa Family Team Meeting Facilitator (FTMF) #10437
- Certified Iowa Family Support Specialist 2002; University of Iowa School of Social Work; Iowa City, IA
- Certified Iowa Family Support Supervisor 2009; University of Iowa School of Social Work and the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice; Iowa City, IA
- Great Plains Public Health Leadership Institute 2010; University of Nebraska College of Public Health; Lincoln, NE
- Program Manager, Iowa Primary Care Association; Urbandale, IA; 2014 to Present
- Program Director, Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa; Des Moines, IA; 2010 – 2013
- Case Management Consultant; Healthy Start/Empowerment; Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa; Des Moines, IA; 2009 – 2010
- Family Support Team Leader; Healthy Start/Empowerment; Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Des Moines, IA; 2007-2010
- Family Team Meeting Facilitator; Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa; Des Moines, IA; 2006-2008
- Case Manager; Community Care and Healthy Start/Empowerment; Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa; Des Moines, IA; 2004-2006
- Program Manager; Youth and Shelter Services; Marshalltown, IA; 2002-2004
- Family Development Specialist; Mid-Iowa Community Action; Marshalltown, IA; 2001-2002
Relevant to the content of this educational activity, the speakers indiciated they have no conflict of interests to disclose.
Note regarding MHFA Instructor Credentialing: The National Council, which oversees Mental Health First Aid nationally, credentials instructors to ensure the U.S. program continues to have a strong empirically-backing by ongoing evaluation in this country. Instructors are required to complete a rigorous week long training. Both a presentation of the course content and a written exam are required.
Continuing Education Credit
- MD: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Iowa Medical Society (IMS) through the joint providership of Des Moines University (DMU) and the Iowa Primary Care Association. DMU is accredited by IMS to provide continuing medical education for physicians. DMU designates this live activity for a maximum of 8.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
- DO: Des Moines University is accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and approves this live activity for 8.0 AOA Category 2-A credit(s).
- Nurse: Des Moines University is Iowa Board of Nursing approved provider #112. This live activity has been reviewed and approved for 9.6 continuing education contact hour(s). No partial credit awarded.
- Other: This live activity is designated for 8.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™.
- 8.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™
- 8.00 AOA Category 2A
- 8.00 CE Contact Hour(s)
- 9.60 IBON