Objective: To review studies evaluating mental health first aid (MHFA) training.
Method: Review of three published trials: one uncontrolled with members of the public in a city, one randomized controlled efficacy trial in a workplace setting and one cluster randomized effectiveness trial with the public in a rural area.
Results: Most mental health first aiders tend to be middle-aged women whose work involves people contact. All trials found the following statistically significant benefits 5–6 months post-training: improved concordance with health professionals about treatments, improved helping behaviour, greater confidence in providing help to others and decreased social distance from people with mental disorders. Only one trial evaluated the mental health benefits to participants and this found positive effects.
Conclusions: Although MHFA training has been found to change knowledge, attitudes and helping behaviours, and even benefit the mental health of participants, there has not yet been an evaluation of the effects on those who are the recipients of the first aid.