Mental Health First Aid Initiative

The UNC System was awarded a $5 million grant from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) to expand mental health services for students across the state of North Carolina.  Funding from GEER will support the implementation of the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program at 116 higher education institutions across North Carolina.

The UNC System Mental Health First Aid Initiative has two levels of training:

  1. The Instructor Training is an intensive three-day course with both pre and post work.  Certification is dependent on attendance, passing the course, and post work.  Once the certification is completed, instructors are required to teach three courses in the first year to maintain certification.  Instructors will be certified to teach virtually, in-person and hybrid courses. 
  2. The MHFA Basic Course is an 8-hour training geared toward people who are not in the Mental Health field. Anyone is eligible to take this course. The UNC System is asking Instructors certified through this initiative to train 90 individuals on their campus in the year following their certification. 

WHat is mental health first aid (MHFA)?

Mental Health First Aid is a course that teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training gives you the skills you need to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis.

MHFA was developed in Australia and came to the United States in 2008.  The target audience is individuals who do not have a mental health background to create a more aware community in all aspects of life.

The goal

The UNC System will be hosting a series of instructor training courses over the next several months, that will result in 232 certified Mental Health First Aid instructors. The newly certified instructors will provide MHFA training to at least 10,000 people across the 116 colleges and universities in North Carolina by December 2022. This will lead to a more aware and healthy culture for students, staff, and faculty.

Please direct questions to Kimberly Mitchell, Director for Student Development and ASG Advisor, at