PMHCC Programs

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)

The Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) is using Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), in combination with other recovery and resilience-oriented strategies, as a public health approach to behavioral health. The purpose of the Philadelphia MHFA initiative is to increase the number of people who are prepared to help individuals with behavioral health challenges. This initiative is also designed to reduce stigma so that people who face behavioral challenges have community support and feel comfortable seeking help for their challenges.

MHFA is a public education program designed to teach all Philadelphians, including those who live, work, or study in our city, how to identify, understand, and respond to a person experiencing a behavioral health problem or crisis; the course teaches individuals how to intervene and provide First Aid until appropriate treatment and support are received or the crisis is otherwise resolved. Those certified in MHFA are better equipped to answer the questions: “What can I do now?” and "Where can I direct this person to get help?"

The federal Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience) report describes MHFA as a relatively low cost, potentially high impact strategy to fill the gap in behavioral health promotion, prevention and early intervention with a focus on inclusion and de-stigmatizing mental illness.

Philadelphia is using a strategic and comprehensive community partnership approach to reach as many Philadelphians as possible. This includes partnerships with government agencies, educational institutes, public safety, the private and non-profit sector, and our faith communities. Through these partnerships, Philadelphia believes that MHFA will strengthen community and cross-system capacity and increase early intervention and access to behavioral health services. The creation and maintenance of strategic partnerships and training hubs will help ensure MHFA trainings are held across Philadelphia and are standardized, reputable, and valuable for all Philadelphians.

In Collaboration with the Office of the Mayor, DBHIDS began implementation of Mental Health First Aid trainings across our City in 2012. As of December 2019, 38,500 individuals have been trained to assist someone in need.  DBHIDS aims to reach 50,000 individuals trained by close of 2020. 

For more information on public no-cost trainings, or to host a training, please visit:

Healthy Minds Philly - MHFA