by Dr Margaret Aranda

World Health Day is 10/10/2016.

Have you heard of MHFA and MHL?

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-3-25-12-amImage 1. World Mental Health Day is always on October 10th.

There is still stigma attached to mental health problems, so it is good to be literate with the names and descriptions of several mental health problems, so we institute change. This is especially important for school-aged youth, teens and young adults. There’s a nice Power Point slide show here for our youth.

These two acronyms should be known by all parents, educators, medical clinicians and researchers: MHFA and MHL.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Mental Health Literacy (MHL)

are poised to continue worldwide spread.

Let’s see how commonly these terms exist on the Internet. On October 8, 2016, a Google search yielded:

  • MHFA = “(mental health) and (first aid)”
  • MHL = “(mental health) and (literacy)”
  • 12.1 million and 6.31 million hits, respectively (Aranda, 2016)!

So let’s learn about its relevance:

  • Mental wounds and crises regularly occur; each one of us is bound to be in the presence of someone having a crisis (or have one ourselves).
  • It is hard for many people to ask for help
  • Some individuals may not even know that they need help
  • Literacy with vocabulary and definitions of mental health applies a temporary ‘bandage’
  • A MHFA responder offers general ‘first aid’ until treatment and/or support occurs
  • The MHFA individual may make an immediate difference

In 2001, Australia’s Betty Kitchener and Anthony Jorm created the first Mental Health First Aid Program. They are married (See Image 2). Betty became a mental health advocate after her struggle with major depression. She is the CEO of MHFA Australia and Adjunct Professor of Deakin University. Anthony is a mental health researcher; together, they have Mental Health First Aid Australia, a national non-profit health promotion charity focused on training and research.

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-3-56-25-pmImage 2. What Wonderful People. Betty Kitchener, a nurse specializing in health education, and Anthony Jorm, a mental health literacy professor. Image Courtesy:


Today, MHFA certification with certified training is available in 20 countries. The USA adopted MHFA in 2008, and the Youth Program pilot began in 2012.

Based on information from’s website, here’s a recent showing of the Top 5 States holding certifications (See Image 3):

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-2-06-02-pmImage 3. Dr Margaret Aranda’s Screenshot of her Pinterest Board for Highlighting this article and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) certification in the USA. More than 700,000 in the USA have taken this Course.


Applying the MHFA Program, we see that the following diagnoses are taught to improve literacy in these subjects and why and how they warrant first aid. Here is a list of Course learning objectives and the Course agenda. Course participants are taught to (1) recognize the common signs and symptoms and (2) to get support for these mental health problems:

  • Aggression
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicide – thought and behavior
  • Self-injury
  • Substance Abuse
  • Panic attacks
  • Trauma, both Adult and Children
  • Severe Psychosis


In 2013, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 66th World Health Assembly called for a

Mental Health Action Plan 2013 – 2020.

Here’s its official Vision that Dr Margaret Chan (See Image 4), WHO’s Director–General, states is a “landmark achievement:”

“Vision: A world in which mental health is values, promoted, and protected, mental disorders are prevented and persons affected by these disorders are able to exercise the full range of human rights and to access high-quality, culturally appropriate health and social care in a timely way to promote recovery, all in order to attain the highest possible level of health and participate fully in society and at work free from stigmatization and discrimination.”

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization

Image 4. Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization. The 66-year-old Chinese-born physician and sine qua non public health expert is the only person on planet earth with the authority to declare a pandemic. Her strategic decisions about what drugs and treatments to use in battling diseases such as Malaria and HIV give her major influence upon the pharmaceutical industry’s fortunes. Image Courtesy:

The Goal of the Mental Health Action Plan is high: “to promote mental well-being, prevent mental disorders, provide care, enhance recovery, promote human rights and reduce the morbidity and disability for persons with mental disorders.”

An abbreviated 5-step process for MHFA may use this acronym:


A = Assess

L = Listen

G = Give reassurance

E = Encourage professional help

E = Encourage self-help

Taking the MHFA Course may just be fun, too. Here’s an image from a Tweet sent by VP Substance Abuse, , Image 5:


Image 5. “ALGEE” from an American Mental Health First Aid Course. The caption reads: Attended training this week to be . Also completed a little play-doh sculpture of ALGEE!  

1 in 5 people in the world have a mental illness. There is a great need to publicize this critical mental health first aid Class, as many world-wide research results show that mental health is still a fundamental issue, especially for our youth.

Perhaps nothing shows this more clearly than Campbell and Siddique’s article in The Guardian’s September 29, 2016 issue, stating:

“…26% of women, and 9% of men aged 16-24 reported symptoms of common mental disorders in the past week.”


“With just one in three people with a mental illness receiving treatment, the need for mental health services is far outstripped by the demand.”

~Dr Prof Sir Simon Wessely
President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK
Let us take great heed to know that the mental health status of those around us is our problem, too. We need to learn how to siphon professional help to those who need it.

In emphasizing the prevalence of mental health issues, this is what the WHO Mental Health Action Plan has to say:

“People with mental disorders experience disproportionately higher rates of disability and mortality. For example, persons with major depression and schizophrenia have a 40% to 60% greater chance of dying prematurely than the general population, owing to physical health problems that are often left unattended [such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and HIV infection) and suicide. Suicide is the second most common cause of death among young people worldwide.”

~World Health Organization

Before Going On, Here are Some Resources

For further information, the Mental Health Action Plan 2013 – 2020 can be viewed in multiple languages as a pdf file. Frequently asked questions in the United States are here. Here are several links to MHFA Courses offered in different countries, Table 1:

Country Website Email Address Phone
Australia +61 3 9079 0200
United States N/A
Canada +61 3 9079 0208
Internl MHFA Programs


+61 3 9079 0200
MHFA Interl


+61 3 9079 0200
Table 1. Mental Health First Aid Countries. MHFA = Mental Health First Aid.

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To assist you further in providing you with links and information in one place herein, please review the variety and expanse of the downloadable MHFA Course Information Sheets. They are standardized for various programs, as seen in Table 2.

Type of Sheet Link
12-hr Standard Sheet MHFA
Instructor Training
14-hr Youth Sheet
Youth Instructor Training
Australian Standard Sheet
Australian Instructor Training et al point out in their 2016 paper that the full impact of the 12-hour pre and post-certification MHFA literacy on ethnicities requires further research. Literacy in mental health diagnoses can only help people get diagnosed. Much more ado is fully warranted for the medical profession to be assisted by a myriad of patient populations, instructors and trainees.
Table 2. International MHFA Websites. MHFA = Mental Health First Aid (do you think we said this enough times already? Studies show that the average person has to be exposed to the same item 12 times before acting. In the sales business world, this is termed, “effective frequency.”

Social Media and Slogans: Influence to Make You Remember

On “Effective Frequency”

Retailers spend billions of dollars just to get you to remember a phrase like,

“Got milk?”

AGE: 23 years; DOB = 1993

~Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein,

Goodby Silverstein & Partners

The New York Times interviewed Rich Silverstein, who says this about the now-famous phrase that was almost abandoned,

It’s clunky. It’s not even English.

~Rich Silverstein on “Got Milk?”

A good read and discussion about the 2009 film, “Art and Copy” can be found on Hailed as being “suberb” by the Chicago-Sun Times, the film documents principles that are applicable to advertising, marketing, public education and health care awareness galore. (We need to get you to remember MHFA and MHL, Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health Literacy.) We can also talk about it

In 1880, it wasThomas Smith from London’s Smith Mutual Advertising Company who wrote, Successful Advertising.

The Financial Brand effectively assures us, in Thomas Smith’s own words, just how many times we need to tell someone the same message before a call to action is taken (Image 5):


Image 5. Excerpt from Thomas Smith’s Book, Successsful AdvertisingScreenshot,

Effective Planning for Social Media Events

Today, we Tweet, blog, Google+, Facebook, Instagram and more. So how can we best plan for an Event and recruit others to stay on schedule with us, to educate ourselves and the general public?

But how do we affect change?

I think it’s fun to have a ‘Countdown’ before launching an Event. Once the Event starts, I also think it’s fantastic to keep Tweeting LIVE. We did this for Stanford Pain’s #BackPainDay on Twitter. Who learned? I know that I did and I’m hoping that others were equally fascinated by the up-to-date information, especially in light of the opioid crisis in America.

Now, whether or not we all Tweet or Re-Tweet an article such as mine here, the question remains: does it help?

Do people get educated or stirred on to ‘Get Milk’

when we Tweet and Re-Tweet?

Who will actually be stimulated to Take the MHFA Course,

become an Instructor,

or have their school institute MHFA and Mental Health Literacy?


Who will save a life?

I’d like you to consider taking the MHFA Course and/or becoming trained in it. Why?

We’re all responsible for keeping one another healthy, as there aren’t enough resources to fill all needs. Perhaps if we could learn to be a comprehensive ‘help’ to others, our ‘bandage’ of first aid will prevent larger complications. Because when a person is clearly having a meltdown in front of you or your children, it is good to know that there is an effective way to most optimally handle it. Others have gone before you. It’s not new.

You cannot and you should not act like a professional, taking on the full burden of another person’s sorrow when clearly, they have a diagnosis that needs professional help. What MHFA Certification does, in my opinion, is something to be cherished. As I write this, I’m actively looking to participate in a Course. Consider Joining me!

If you are in a leadership position on social media, I think it is reasonable to take this Course so you are armed to recognize, categorize and assist in professionally treating mental health problems before some one harms themselves. Today, this is just common sense.

In this light, and on social media, let me explain the difference between ’empathy’ and ‘sympathy.’

Empathy allows a person or professional to validate another’s feelings because the doctor, for example, personally embraces them.

Sympathy is like validation; one acknowledges and provides comfort for the other.

Health Care Professionals are taught to be leaders trained to always be ’empathetic’ and not ‘sympathetic’ so they are compassionate while not overstepping their bounds. This is a concept that is taught in virtually all American medical schools. After a physician:patient relationship has been established, the medical students allow themselves to ‘get personal’ with their patients.

The MHFA has guidelines, plans and purposes

professionally lined up for you

to easily follow

for mental health optimization

of all those around you

and your children.

~Dr Margaret Aranda

Final Thought: Tweet Today!


World Mental Health Day 2016

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Be #1in1m

Be 1 in a Million to Make a Difference

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Studies Show that Taking 10 min to Talk Improves Health

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(Tag @MHFirstAidUSA, @MHFAEngland, @MHFA_Australia too)

Take a #MHFA Class


©️ Aranda MD Enterprises. All rights reserved. No copying this article in part or in full. Keep this sensitive article fully intact. Medical Disclaimer: No part of this is meant to provide diagnosis, treatment or cure. See your doctor for your complaints.

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Let’s do what the WHO wants to do, so we’re all on the same page:

Goal: To promote mental well-being, prevent mental disorders, provide care, enhance recovery, promote human rights, and reduce the mortality, morbidity and disability for persons with mental disorders.

~Mental Health Action Plan 2013 – 2020

Happy 10/10/2016 for World Mental Health Day

…and Beyond!

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Thank you for reading my articles.

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Welcoming in all the new possibilities here with you for our moments together! Simply talk to me here or on Twitter, or on both! ((Hugs!)) Remember: A 20 sec hug + 10 sec hand-holding secretes ‘happy’ hormone cortisol, working against depression. ((Hugs!))

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Aranda, M. Google Search. (Mental health) and (first aid): and (Mental health) and (literacy): October 9, 2016.