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

Early Interv Psychiatry. 2012 Nov;6(4):399-406. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-7893.2012.00345.x. Epub 2012 Mar 1.


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.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • First Aid / methods
  • First Aid / psychology*
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Health Education / methods
  • Health Education / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Mental Health / education*
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires