Mental Health First Aid

Course description


  • Shenandoah Medical Center, IA


  • $16 per person for a training manual.

To register, please contact: 

Target Audience

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.

Learning Objectives

  1. 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.

  2. Use a 5-step action plan to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional help.

  3. Interpret the prevalence of various mental health disorders in the U.S. and the need for reduced negative attitudes in their communities.

  4. 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.

  5. 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:  

  1. improves people’s mental health
  2. increases understanding of mental health issues and treatments
  3. connects more people with care
  4. 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

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.


7:30 amRegistration
8 am

Part 1

  • What is MHFA
  • MHFA Problems in the US
  • MHFA Action Plan
  • Understanding Depression
  • Understanding Anxiety Disorders
10 am Break
10:15 am

Part 2

  • Crisis First Aid for Suicidal Behavior and Depressive Symptoms
  • What is Non-suicidal Self Injury?
  • Non-Crisis First Aid for Depression and Anxiety
12:15 pm


12:45 pm

Part 3

  • Crisis First Aid for Panic Attacks
  • Crisis First Aid for Traumatic Events
  • Understanding Disorders in Which Psychosis May Occur
  • Crisis First Aid for Acute Psychosis
2:45 pmBreak
3 pm

Part 4

  • Understanding SA Disorder
  • Crisis First Aid for Overdose
  • Crisis First Aid for Withdrawal
  • Using MHFA
5 pm Adjourn


Relevant to the content of this educational activity, the instructors indicated they have no conflict of interests to disclose. 

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

Employment Experience

  • 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

Sandy Sheehy, MBA, BSN
Public Health Analyst, HRSA; Certified MHFA Instructor

Credentials and Education

  • MBA; St. Ambrose University; Davenport, IA
  • BSN in Nursing; University of Iowa; Iowa City, IA
  • Kansas Licensed Registered Nurse
  • Certified Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Instructor
  • Certified in Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Human Subject Research – Social Behavioral Research Investigators and Key Personnel
  • Certified in FEMA IS-100a, IS200a, IS-300a, and IS-700a (Incident Command System)

Employment Experience

  • Public Health Analyst; Health Resources and Services Administration, Office of Regional Operations, Region VII; Kansas City, MO; 5/2014 to present
  • Project Manager; American Academy of Family Physicians, Health of the Public and Science Division; Leawood, KS; 2012-2014
  • General Manager and Program Director of Public Health programs; St. Luke’s Hospital- Management Services Department; Cedar Rapids,  IA; 2009-2011
  • Registered Nurse; Transamerica; Cedar Rapids, IA; 3/2008-9/2009
  • Nurse Consultant and Trainer; Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, Inc. (HACAP); Hiawatha, IA; 8/2005-3/2008
  • Adjunct Nursing Faculty; Kirkwood Community College and Hamilton College; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; 8/2003-8/2005
  • Registered Nurse; Iowa Health Physicians; Cedar Rapids, IA; 2002-2003

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 implement 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 Credits™.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
  • DO: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the standards and policies of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) through the joint sponsorship of Des Moines University (DMU) and the Iowa Primary Care Association. DMU is accredited by the AOA and approves this live activity for a maximum of 8.0 hours of AOA Category 2-A CME credits.
  • Nursing: Des Moines University continuing education (provider #112) is approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing as an accredited provider. This live activity has been reviewed and approved for 9.6 continuing education contact hours. No partial credit awarded.
  • Other: This live activity is designated for 8.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™.

Commercial Support

Educational grants are not being accepted for this activity. 


Des Moines University (DMU) prohibits discrimination in a person’s race, color, national origin, ethnicity, creed, religion, age, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, veteran status, genetic information and other characteristics protected by law (“protected class”). The University also affirms its commitment to providing equal opportunities and equal access to University facilities. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend DMU sponsored activities. You are able to access DMUs legal information here. If you have questions/concerns, please contact the DMU CME office at 515-271-1596 or

Event date:

05/27/2015 - 8:00am
05/27/2015 - 5:00pm
Shenandoah Medical Center
300 Pershing Avenue
Shenandoah, IA 51601
United States
Credits & accreditation
  • 8.00 AOA Category 2­A
  • 8.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits
  • 9.60 IBON
  • 8.00 Attendance (Designated for AMA)
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 8.00 AOA Category 2­A
  • 8.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits
  • 9.60 IBON
  • 8.00 Attendance (Designated for AMA)
Course opens: 
Course expires: 
Event starts: 
05/27/2015 - 8:00am
Event ends: 
05/27/2015 - 5:00pm

Enrollments closed on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - 8:00am.

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Payment required

You must purchase this course.