Paul Roebuck
Paul Roebuck

MHFA Advanced Training

Advanced MHFA training

STEREO Advanced Mental Heath First Aider Coaching


A Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) is not dissimilar to Physical First Aider (PFA). The PFA might support you with a physical problem; the MHFA will support mental and emotional difficulty.

PFA’s are mostly dealing with visible symptoms and the person with need is also aware of the symptoms (e.g. a bleeding finger). MHFA’s do not always have the visible cues. The presenting condition might be tears, signs of sadness, visible anger, fidgeting or anxiety, prickliness or stress and so on.

A MHFA needs to be competent and confident at being present for the person, to be comfortable with them emotionally and explore with them how they are really feeling and use tools to help the person more accurately pinpoint the trigger that has been or is causing the mental and emotional difficulty.

Once that initial support has been provided, at the point of need, the MHFA can then signpost the person for further support or may check in with the person themselves in the following days to offer further support.


STEREO builds upon the Mind MHFA standard training inparticularthe impact of the MHFA’s own personal emotional processes and their own narrative when helping others.

Without increased self-awareness it is almost impossible not to get drawn into the emotions of others, or to secrete our own emotional state onto others. The MHFA needs to understand their own narrative and recognise their own beliefs, prejudices, experiences, strengths and weaknesses when dealing with people suffering from mental and emotional difficulties. If not, they can exacerbate a problem, and in some cases disturb their own emotional state. So instead of one person having a mental health problem suddenly there are two.

So, the training for MHFA’s must ensure that they understand themselves and look after their own mental and emotional wellbeing and provide suitable mentoring and supervision for them to guard against inbound emotional overload.


S T E R E O Explained

STEREO the acronym for the technique used when helping someone at point of need by garnering the answers to these questions, in a confidential, compassionate and competent manner. The steps employed by the MHFA are used to help the person seeking support by guiding them to find their own answers to these questions.

Stimulus – What was the trigger?
What actually happened and what part did you play? Specificity is important here. Sometimes people colour the experience, because of their own narrative, and the MHFA is trained to get to the specifics and minimise self-blame, guilt and shame.

Thought – What did the person think?
What we think determines how we feel, it’s important to help the person understand their thought processes; what did they make the event mean?

Emotion – How does the person feel?
This is the most important question as how we feel, determines how we act/react. The MHFA’s training will help them develop a wider emotional vocabulary so they feel more able to ask the “feeling” questions, which are key to the success MHFAs. Helping people connect with and articulate their feelings is important to help release any negative emotion.

REsponse – How did the person react?
It’s important for the person to understand how they have reacted and to establish if there is a pattern. Sometimes the pattern needs to be interrupted with a more cognitive form of support. It’s also important to understand if the person has taken their work-related mental health challenge home with them.

Outcome – What is/was the outcome?
This is usually the easiest answer to find and can often be the starting point of the conversation. Usually, starting with what’s happened (the outcome) will reveal there is a problem that needs support.

The acronym is used real time to help the person to talk about their mental health difficulty in a safe and structured manner and at the same time (and retrospectively) it’s used by the MHFA to understand their own emotional process to ensure they are not unnecessarily impacted by the person and are able to let go of any unwanted emotions.

STEREO Hearing others and listening to yourself”