Evaluation of Mental Health First Aid skills in an Australian university population

Deena Ashoorian, Kristy-Lee Albrecht, Casey Baxter, Erin Giftakis, Rhonda Clifford, Jayden Greenwell-Barnden, Patricia Wylde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)



University students have high rates of mental health problems; however, most delay or fail to seek help altogether. Tertiary settings can offer educational and social programmes to increase mental health awareness and in turn increase the number of students seeking help for their problems. This study aimed to explore students' and staffs' knowledge of mental health issues, confidence to intervene and application of skills following Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training.

Students and staff at an Australian university who had completed MHFA training in the previous 24 months were invited to complete a validated online questionnaire.

Of the 566 eligible participants, 107 (19%) completed the questionnaire. The majority (65%) had applied their skills to someone in need, with the highest number applying it to students. Notably, of those who had applied their skills 23 participants (33%) had applied them in a crisis situation, the most common being panic attacks followed by suicidal thoughts. Although most (98%) applied their skills in a face‐to‐face capacity, 53% also reported assisting someone via electronic mediums and social media. The mean score for the literacy test was considered high, 12/16 (SD = 1.7) for students and 13/16 (SD = 2.5) for staff. The majority (94%) reported more confidence in providing support following training.

This study demonstrated that MHFA training on a university campus is associated with a high level of knowledge, confidence to intervene and apply MHFA skills to assist a student or friend in need, potentially impacting their long‐term health outcomes and future professional careers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1121-1128
Number of pages8
Journal Early Intervention in Psychiatry
Issue number5
Early online date10 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


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