Dr Laura Hart and Dr Claire Kelley

Mental Health First Aid Training in Schools: An evidence based approach to teaching the school community how to support young people with mental illness

About Laura

Dr. Laura Hart is the coordinator of the teen Mental Health First Aid program based at Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne. Laura has a background in psychology and has worked as a researcher in the area of community education in mental health since 2007. Laura has been involved in developing and evaluating culturally appropriate Mental Health First Aid resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as resources for individuals with eating disorders, adolescents with mental health problems, and parenting to prevent adolescent mental illness.

In 2011 Laura completed her PhD in the area of mental health first aid for eating disorders. She has been a qualified Youth and Standard Mental Health First Aid Instructor since 2008. She has a keen interest in the areas of mental health literacy, eating disorders and improving young people’s help-seeking for mental health problems.

About Claire

Dr Claire Kelly is the coordinator of the Youth Mental Health First Aid Program, based at Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne. Claire completed her Doctoral studies on the mental health literacy of Australian adolescents in 2005. She then moved with the Mental Health First Aid team to Melbourne to work on a series of consensus guidelines which informed the 2nd Edition MHFA materials and course, taking up the role of YMHFA coordinator in 2008. Claire has trained hundreds of MHFA Instructors across Australia and has assisted in taking the program to Sweden, China and Hong Kong.

Claire’s major research interests are depression, suicide and suicidal behaviours, non-suicidal self-injury, and traumatic events and their sequelae in adolescents and young people. She is also currently involved in research on preventive interventions for parents, to help their children develop mental health problems as they develop into adolescence and early adulthood.

About Mental Health First Aid Training

Students and their teachers often recognise symptoms of mental illness though many lack the knowledge and confidence to respond effectively. Mental health first aid is the help provided to someone developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis, until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves. Mental health first aid strategies are taught in high-quality, effective training courses run by the Mental Health First Aid Training and Research Program (MHFA). This workshop discusses how MHFA training can be used in schools to develop a school community approach to improving effective support for those with mental illness.

Workshop Overview

This workshop will provide an overview of mental health issues common in students and strategies for effectively responding to them. The workshop will cover: what current research suggests students and teachers need to know about mental illness, why providing information about mental illness in schools is important, how this information can be discussed safely, and how Mental Health First Aid Training (MHFA) can assist schools to respond effectively to those with mental illness. Attendees will learn about: the concept of mental health first aid, the MHFA Australia model, the contents and structure of the Youth MHFA program – a course to teach adults how to assist a young person who is developing a mental illness, the contents and structure of the teen MHFA program – a new course to teach adolescents how to assist their friends, and how the school community can develop knowledge and skills in responding to mental illness.