The aim of Mental Health First Aid is to improve the mental health literacy of members of the Australian community. In 1995 our Centre developed the National Survey of Mental Health Literacy and carried out interviews across Australia with 2,031 adult members of the general public and 3,127 mental health professionals (GPs, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and mental health nurses). The survey found that there are widely differing knowledge and views between mental health professionals and members of the general public regarding the recognition, causes and treatment of mental health problems.
This gap between professional and lay people in knowledge and beliefs regarding mental health has serious implications. Stigma and discrimination towards people with a mental health disorder are still rife in the Australian community. Lack of knowledge about the nature of these disorders may mean that the public may not seek appropriate mental health services and/or that they may not adhere to some types of evidence-based treatment recommended by health professionals. Similarly, members of the public may not recommend or encourage friends and/or family to avail themselves to appropriate health professionals or treatment.
YMHFA was designed specifically for those who deal with adoloscents and yound people aged 16 - 25 years.