Mental health first aid training for the Chinese community in Melbourne, Australia: effects on knowledge about and attitudes toward people with mental illness

Int J Ment Health Syst. 2010 Jun 24;4:18. doi: 10.1186/1752-4458-4-18.


Background: The aim of this study was to investigate in members of the Chinese community in Melbourne the impact of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training on knowledge about mental disorders and on attitudes to people with mental illness. The hypotheses were that at the end of the training participants would have increased knowledge of mental disorders and related treatments, and decreased negative attitudes towards people with mental disorders.

Methods: Respondents were 108 participants of three MHFA training workshops for the Chinese community in Melbourne conducted by a qualified MHFA trainer. Participants completed the research questionnaire prior to the commencement of the training (pre-test) and at its completion (post-test). The questionnaires assessed participants' ability to recognize a mental disorder (depression and schizophrenia) described in the vignettes, knowledge about the professional help and treatment, and negative attitudes towards people with mental illness.

Results: Between pre- and post-test there was significant improvement in the recognition of mental disorders, beliefs about treatment became more concordant with health professionals, and negative attitudes reduced.

Conclusion: The MHFA training course for general members of the Chinese community in Melbourne produced significant positive change in the level of mental health literacy and reductions in stigmatizing attitudes. The evidence from this study, together with the accumulated evidence of the benefits of MHFA training in the general Australian community, suggests that this approach should be scaled up to a level where it can have an impact on the whole of the Chinese community in Australia.