Evaluation of Youth Mental Health First Aid USA: A program to assist young people in psychological distress

Psychol Serv. 2016 May;13(2):121-126. doi: 10.1037/ser0000063.


Youth Mental Health First Aid USA (YMHFA) is a manualized training program designed to educate members of the public on common emotional problems and psychological disorders among youth and to provide trainees with tools anyone can use to assist young people in psychological distress. The present study used a pre versus post design to assess the ability of social service employees to generate appropriate strategies to use in hypothetical situations featuring a young person in distress, before versus after participation in the 8-hr YMHFA training. Trainee responses demonstrated significant overall improvement (M = 1.32, SD = 0.80 pretraining vs. M = 1.87, SD = 1.1 posttraining, t = 6.6, p < .001) by including four of the five central YMHFA strategies significantly more often after training. Increased confidence in, likelihood of, and comfort with helping a young person in emotional distress or crisis were also reported posttraining compared to pretraining (all p ≤ .001). Results suggest that individuals participating in YMHFA training are better informed regarding when to assess for risk of suicide, listen nonjudgmentally, encourage appropriate professional help, and encourage self-help strategies with young people in psychological distress. (PsycINFO Database Record

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adult
  • First Aid / methods*
  • First Aid / standards
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Social Work / methods*
  • Social Work / standards
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Suicide / prevention & control
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • United States