Mental health first aid training by e-learning: a randomized controlled trial

Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2010 Dec;44(12):1072-81. doi: 10.3109/00048674.2010.516426.


Objective: Mental Health First Aid training is a course for the public that teaches how to give initial help to a person developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. The present study evaluated the effects of Mental Health First Aid training delivered by e-learning on knowledge about mental disorders, stigmatizing attitudes and helping behaviour.

Method: A randomized controlled trial was carried out with 262 members of the Australian public. Participants were randomly assigned to complete an e-learning CD, read a Mental Health First Aid manual or be in a waiting list control group. The effects of the interventions were evaluated using online questionnaires pre- and post-training and at 6-months follow up. The questionnaires covered mental health knowledge, stigmatizing attitudes, confidence in providing help to others, actions taken to implement mental health first aid and participant mental health.

Results: Both e-learning and the printed manual increased aspects of knowledge, reduced stigma and increased confidence compared to waiting list. E-learning also improved first aid actions taken more than waiting list, and was superior to the printed manual in reducing stigma and disability due to mental ill health.

Conclusions: Mental Health First Aid information received by either e-learning or printed manual had positive effects, but e-learning was better at reducing stigma.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • First Aid / methods*
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Helping Behavior
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Stereotyping
  • Teaching / methods*