Mental Health First Aid for problem drinking & problem drug use

You may recognise when someone close to you is developing an alcohol or drug problem, but you may not know when, and how to respond effectively. 

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) guidelines for Problem Drinking and Problem Drug Use provide information about when, and how to encourage someone with alcohol and/or drug problems to seek appropriate help early.

The MHFA Guidelines were developed by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Australia, a national non-profit health promotion charity focused on training and research

The MHFA guidelines provide practical strategies on:
  • recognising problem drinking/problem drug use
  • approaching someone if there is concern about their drinking/drug use
  • supporting someone to change their drinking/drug use & how to respond if they are unwilling to change
  • facilitating professional help-seeking & response if professional help is refused
  • managing alcohol-related medical emergencies or drug-related crises 
Guidelines to help someone get professional help
The MHFA guidelines are endorsed by an international expert panel of clinicians, consumers and carers.

The guidelines for helping an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person have been developed with a panel of Australian health experts.

Mental Health First Aid Australia have developed guidelines on what constitutes best practice first aid, as informed by expert consensus (i.e., consensus-based guidelines). MHFA Course curriculum in face to face and eLearning is based on these guidelines. View and download MHFA Guidelines here.
Articles describing the development of the MHFA guidelines

The following articles describe the development of MHFA guidelines.

Video guides: when drug use has become a problem
A film illustrating how to apply the first aid actions endorsed in MHFA guidelines was developed with funding from the Australian Government.

The video guides demonstrate: how to recognise when someone's drug use has become a problem; how to approach the person about your concerns; how to provide initial support and information; and how to guide the person to seek professional help.

See these videos   >> 
Other MHFA resources



Additional MHFA Guidelines for the public have been developed for English speaking countries with developed health systems about first aid applicable to a range of developing mental disorders and mental health crisis situations. Download additional guidelines here.


Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Australia develops, evaluates and provides a variety of training programs and courses. Their programs are:
  1. Evidenced-based 12-14 hour MHFA courses which teach mental health first aid strategies to members of the public.
  2. Instructor Training Courses which train and accredit suitable individuals to deliver these 12-14 hour MHFA courses to communities and workplaces across Australia.
For more information, please visit www.mhfa.com.au