Mental Health First Aid training and assessment among university students: A systematic review

Sarira El-Den | Rebekah Moles | Huai-Jin Choong | Claire O'Reilly


Objective: To explore the literature describing the delivery and assessment of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training among university students.

Data sources: The databases MEDLINE, PreMEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, ERIC, and PsycINFO were searched to identify publications describing MHFA training and assessment among university students since 2000.

Study selection: All studies, regardless of design, that described the delivery and assessment of MHFA training among university students, at any level, were included in this systematic review.

Data extraction: The discipline and level of students; the version, length, and integration of MHFA training; and the constructs used to assess students post-MHFA training were extracted from each study.

Results: Of the initial 1662 records, 12 were included. Eight studies were conducted in Australia, 3 in the United States, and 1 in the United Kingdom. Most students were enrolled in health care or social work degree programs across all years of their program with 4 studies involving pharmacy students. Three studies described integrating compulsory MHFA training for university students. Most studies reported on the delivery of the Standard or Adult version of MHFA training; no study reported on MHFA for Tertiary Students. Post-MHFA training, students were assessed on mental health knowledge, literacy, intentions, confidence, stigma, and skills application. Only 2 studies described assessment methods involving direct observation of behaviors, whereas the rest relied on self-reported measurements.

Conclusion: Despite the spread of MHFA to over 25 countries and the availability of tertiary student-specific training, the studies included in this systematic review were conducted in only 3 countries and mainly involved Standard and Adult MHFA training. Most assessments relied on self-reported measures. Future studies involving different versions of MHFA training, and the exploration of novel competency-based assessment methods among a diverse range of students from different countries are warranted.


Dr Sarira El-Den is presenting her research in session 2.


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