The goal of Mental Health First Aid is to increase mental health literacy. Like CPR training helps a non-medical professional assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training helps an individual who doesn't have clinical training assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis. In both situations, the goal is to help support an individual until appropriate professional help arrives, with the added underlying intention to promote health literacy.
Mental Health First Aiders learn to apply a single strategy in helping someone through a panic attack, engaging with someone who may be suicidal, supporting a person experiencing psychosis and helping an individual who has overdosed. In practicing the intervention strategy, Mental Health First Aiders learn the risk factors and warning signs of specific illnesses such as anxiety, depression, psychosis and addiction; engage in experiential activities that build understanding of the impact of illness; and learn information about evidence-based treatment and support - ultimately building participants' mental health 'literacy'.