James Radack

What is MHFA?

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an evidence-based educational program that teaches individuals basic information about a variety of mental illnesses and practical skills to help family, friends, colleagues and others who might be experiencing a mental health challenge, disorder or crisis. Founded in Australia in 2001 by Betty Kitchener (in photo) and her husband Tony Jorm, the program is now worldwide.

MHFA came to the United States in 2008 with the introduction of the Adult curriculum. The Youth curriculum followed in 2012, and Teen MHFA in 2020. The U.S. program now boasts more than two million Mental Health First Aiders in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing oversees the implementation of MHFA in the United States.

The Action Plan

Like the ABCs of CPR, MHFA has its own Action Plan. Ours is called ALGEE.

ALGEE is a 5-step plan to guide us in how we might approach, assess and assist someone

in the most supportive way possible. It is a very practical and flexible tool to help address

a variety of non-crisis and crisis mental health situations.

Assess for Risk of Suicide or Harm

Listen Non-Judgmentally

Give Reassurance and Information

Encourage Appropriate Professional Help

Encourage Self-Help and Other Support Strategies

ALGEE is also the namesake of the mascot of the MHFA program worldwide. Given the program's roots

in Australia, the mascot (as you can see below) is a koala.

ALGEE across America

© 2021 James A. Radack