The Mental Health First Aid - Conversations about Suicide (MHFA-CaS)
The University of Melbourne, the Victorian Men’s Shed Association (VMSA) and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Australia are working together to investigate the effectiveness of the Mental Health First Aid Conversations About Suicide (MHFA-CaS) course.
MHFA Australia has developed public education courses that teach community members to recognise when someone is experiencing a mental health problem and provide them with appropriate support (known as mental health first aid). The MHFA-CaS course is a specialised four-hour course focused on recognising and supporting people with suicidal thoughts. It aims to improve participants’ confidence and skills in supporting someone in their social network, such as a friend or family member, who is feeling suicidal. The course is based on suicide prevention best practice guidelines and is delivered by instructors who are trained and accredited by MHFA Australia.
The course will be implemented in Men’s Sheds across Victoria with the aim of reaching older men, who have the highest suicide rate. Men’s Sheds are community organisations that provide a communal space for men to meet, socialise, learn new skills and voluntarily take part in practical activities with other men. We will be asking men who have enrolled in the MHFA-CaS course through their local Men’s Shed to complete a set of surveys to better understand the effect on helping intentions and behaviours towards people who are suicidal, suicide beliefs and stigmatising attitudes. Enhancing the knowledge, attitudes and supportive actions of social networks and peers of older men is a potential pathway for reducing mental illness and suicidal risk in males.