Online Program

Evaluating Mental Health First Aid in Philadelphia: Measuring impact among “First Aiders”

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 1:10 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Shoshana Akins, MPH, Department of Health Management and Policy, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA
Nancy Epstein, MPH, MAHL, Department of Community Health & Prevention, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia’s Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training aims to improve mental health awareness and literacy, increase early intervention and access to behavioral health services, support recovery and resilience, reduce behavioral health stigma, and strengthen community and cross-system capacity. Methods: The MHFA evaluation, conducted by the Drexel University School of Public Health, includes on-line surveys conducted every month since February 2014, designed to learn about the 3- and 6-month impact of the eight-hour MHFA training on those trained (First Aiders). It also included 20 half-hour key informant telephone interviews conducted during June 2014. The 3-month survey gathers information about First Aiders’ MHFA knowledge; confidence in using their new skills; and negative attitudes, or stigma, about mental illness or individuals experiencing behavioral health crises. The 6-month survey gathers examples of how First Aiders have applied the MHFA training, their use of mental health knowledge and skills, referrals they have made to professional and community supports, and identical stigma measures. Results: As of February 2015, there were 700 respondents to the surveys. Results demonstrate that a majority of First Aiders experienced an increase in their mental health knowledge and use of skills to respond to someone experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis; frequent application of those skills helping family, friends, clients, and oneself; frequent referrals; and significant decreases in attitudes of stigma. Conclusions: Evaluating MHFA requires a socioecological evaluation framework that starts with understanding the experience and impact on First Aiders and their beneficiaries, before understanding the broader impact on their communities.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe how the City of Philadelphia is evaluating its Mental Health First Aid training using a socioecological framework. Describe two different on-line survey instruments designed to evaluate the experience of First Aiders (those trained in Mental Health First Aid) after their training. Name four survey measures instrumental to evaluating the impact of Mental Health First Aid on those trained and share results.

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Evaluation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted this evaluation work.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.