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Mental health first aid guidelines: an evaluation of impact following download from the World Wide Web

Authors


  • Conflict of interest: AFJ is the scientific director of the Mental Health First Aid Training and Research Programme.

Dr Laura M. Hart, Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Locked Bag 10, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia. Email: lhart@unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

Aim: Mental health first aid guidelines provide the public with consensus-based information about how to assist someone who is developing a mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the usefulness and impact of the guidelines on web users who download them.

Method: Web users who downloaded the documents were invited to respond to an initial demographic questionnaire, then a follow up about how the documents had been used, their perceived usefulness, whether first-aid situations had been encountered and if these were influenced by the documents.

Results: Over 9.8 months, 706 web users responded to the initial questionnaire and 154 responded to the second. A majority reported downloading the document because their job involved contact with people with mental illness. Sixty-three web users reported providing first aid, 44 of whom reported that the person they were assisting had sought professional care as a result of their suggestion. Twenty-three web users reported seeking care themselves. A majority of those who provided first aid reported feeling that they had been successful in helping the person, that they had been able to assist in a way that was more knowledgeable, skilful and supportive, and that the guidelines had contributed to these outcomes.

Conclusions: Information made freely available on the Internet, about how to provide mental health first aid to someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis, is associated with more positive, empathic and successful helping behaviours.

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