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Start a Local Program

Want to offer Mental Health First Aid in your community? Start by defining your goals and strategy for dissemination. You’ll need to select staff to be trained as instructors and support your certified instructors to teach at least three courses a year. Before you get started, ask yourself the following questions.

Why Mental Health First Aid?

Is Mental Health First Aid right for you? First, it is important to know what the program is and what it is not.

Mental Health First Aid is…

  • A health literacy program
  • About people helping people, one-on-one
  • For individuals who do not have any background as a mental health professional

Mental Health First Aid is not

  • A disaster response program
  • A peer support group
  • Counseling, therapy, or other professional help

Getting Started

Setting Goals

Studies on Mental Health First Aid show a variety of outcomes. You should define your own measurable objectives, which may include:

  • Training a certain number of people in your community/in specific audience groups
  • Making your organization more visible in the community
  • Strengthening relations with community partners


Putting on a course involves much more than just teaching it. Program planning involves:

  • Strategic planning (e.g., creating a sustainable business plan, forming community partnerships)
  • Grantwriting and fundraising
  • Marketing and outreach
  • Course registration (free or fee-based)
  • Event planning (e.g., audio-visual, catering, logistics, materials)
  • Evaluation and analysis of program’s success


How much can you invest in Mental Health First Aid? Expenses vary depending on a number of factors, but you should build your budget to include the following pieces:

  • Instructor training ($2,000 per person tuition, travel and lodging during the training, cost of time out of the office)
  • Program administration and planning
  • Marketing and outreach (e.g., press outreach, web development, printing posters and flyers, social media activities)

Check out our sample course budget to help you plan.

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