teen Mental Health First Aid

Project Details

teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) is a 3 x 75-minute classroom-based training program for high school students in Years 10-12, developed by Dr Laura Hart, Dr Claire Kelly, Professor Tony Jorm and Betty Kitchener AM. The program is designed to teach adolescents how to recognise and appropriately support a peer who is experiencing a mental health problem (e.g. depression, anxiety) or a mental health crisis (such as thinking about suicide or engaging in self-injury). The program is provided in school classrooms by Instructors who are trained and accredited by Mental Health First Aid Australia .

For more information on how to access teen Mental Health First Aid for your school, please see https://mhfa.com.au/courses/public/types/teen. For more information about the current teenAID trial being conducted in Victorian secondary schools, please see: https://mspgh.unimelb.edu.au/research-groups/centre-for-mental-health/population-mental-health/teen-aid-trial

Dr Laura Hart has been leading development and evaluation research of tMHFA program since 2012. Including the following activities:

  • A large Delphi expert consensus study was conducted on what key messages adolescents should be taught in a basic mental health first aid training program.
  • Literature reviews were completed on adolescent help-seeking, barriers to treatment, stigmatising attitudes to mental illness, mental health literacy deficits, supportive first aid behavior deficits, and effective health education techniques for the classroom environment.
  • These results were translated into course content for two teen Mental Health First Aid programs; one for students in Years 10-12, another for students in Years 7-9.
  • Engaged youth advocacy organisations to collaborate with adolescents with lived experience of mental illness, to develop materials for the Years 10-12 program, using seeding funding from the Jack Brockhoff Foundation.
  • Piloted all materials with students from the Live4Life initiative.
  • Conducted the first evaluation of teenMHFA in four secondary schools (n=988 students) using funding from an Early Career Researcher Grant from beyondblue Victorian Centre of Excellence in 2013.
  • Results of that first pilot trial were used to apply for a project grant funded by Australian Rotary Health, resulting in the 2014-2017 pilot cluster, cross-over RCT with four schools including in outer-metropolitan areas (n=1,942 students).
  • Assisted Mental Health First Aid Australia (MHFA) to launch the national dissemination of the program via Instructor Training commencing in 2014.
  • Used the outcomes from the first two pilot trials to successfully apply for a NHMRC Project Grant to conduct a large cluster cross-over RCT with 10 Victorian Secondary Schools (2017-2021). Currently leading the teenAID research Cluster Crossover Randomised Controlled trial evaluating the Years 10-12 program.
  • Engaged a pedagogical expert in early 2017, to conduct a materials review, in response to student feedback gathered in the 2014-2017 trial. A third edition was launched by MHFA Australia in mid-2017.
  • In 2017 teen MHFA for Years 7-9 was launched with an uncontrolled pilot evaluation funded by a seed grant from the William Buckland Foundation.
  • In Australia, as of 1 July 2018, 46,317 students had received the teen MHFA Years 10-12 program; an additional 6,181 students had received the Years 7-9 program, bringing the total to 52,498 students (source: MHFA Australia training database).

International programs with teen MHFA









  • Dr Laura Hart – Principal investigator
  • Professor Tony Jorm – Senior Investigator
  • Dr Claire Kelly (Mental Health First Aid Australia)
  • Adjunct Professor Betty Kitchener (Deakin University)


  • 2017 – 2021 NHMRC Project Grant - Improving the capacity of peers to provide guidance and support for adolescents with mental health problems
  • 2014 – 2017 Australian Rotary Health Project Grant for improving the mental health of young Australians: teen Mental Health First Aid Training: A Pilot Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial
  • 2013 Beyond Blue Early Career Research Project: An evaluation of teen Mental Health First Aid: a program to train adolescents to better support their peers

Research Publications

Publications providing an evidence-base for the program:

Hart, L.M, Morgan AJ, Rossetto A, Kelly, C. M., Mackinnon, A., Jorm, A. F. (2018) Helping adolescents to better support their peers with a mental health problem: A cluster-randomised crossover trial of teen Mental Health First Aid. Australian New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 52: 638-651.

Hart LM, Cox GR and Lees L. (2018) Teaching mental health first aid in the school setting: a novel approach to improving outcomes for common adolescent mental disorders. Current Opinion in Pediatrics 30: 478–482.

Hart, L.M., Mason, R.J., Kelly, C.M., Cvetkovski, S. & Jorm, A.F. (2016). ‘teen Mental Health First Aid’: a description of the program and an initial evaluation. International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 10(3), Retrieved from https://ijmhs.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13033-016-0034-1

Hadlaczky, G., Hӧkby, S., Mkrtchian, A., Carli, V. & Wasserman, D. (2014). Mental Health First Aid is an effective public health intervention for improving knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour: A meta-analysis. International Review of Psychiatry, 26(4). Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/09540261.2014.924910

Ross, A. M., Hart, L. M., Jorm, A. F., Kelly, C. M., & Kitchener, B. K. (2012). Development of key messages for adolescents on providing basic mental health first aid to peers: a delphi consensus study. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 6(3), 229–238. doi:10.1111/j.1751-7893.2011.00331.x

Jorm, A.F., Kitchener, B.A., Sawyer, M.G., Scales, H. & Cvetkovski, S. (2010). Mental health first aid training for high school teachers: A cluster randomized control trial. BMC Psychiatry, 10(51). Retrieved from https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-10-51

Research Group

Population Mental Health

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

School Research Themes

Prevention and management of non-communicable diseases (including cancer), and promotion of mental health

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Centre for Mental Health

MDHS Research library
Explore by researcher, school, project or topic.