Free Mental Health First Aid for Counties Manukau

Free Mental Health First Aid workshops are available for Counties Manukau residents to assist people to better deal with mental health challenges.

The two-day workshops run by Counties Manukau Health, provide support for people potentially developing a mental health problem or supporting someone already dealing with a mental health crisis. 

So far, more than 1400 people have completed the course. 

Programme coordinator, Ann-Marie Higgins, says the workshops teach and provide strategies for people to cope, using a number of scenarios.

“The workshops can instil confidence in your ability to recognise someone in mental health distress and respond appropriately. There is an opportunity to talk about mental health in general and ask questions. It is also a safe environment with like-minded people where participants can share their personal stories if they feel comfortable to do so”. 

“Most people know the first aid approach to use for someone who is physically unwell or has had an accident, but not many know what to do when mental health first aid is needed.”

Ms Higgins says using real life situations, trained instructors can work and show participants how to listen without judging and support and encourage people to seek professional help when they need it.

The workshop covers a range of topics including how to identify signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychosis, substance misuse and how to respond to someone having a mental health crisis, prior to the appropriate professional treatment being received or until the crisis resolves.

Beachlands resident Ruxandra Macfarlane recently attended the workshop and says it has given her an appreciation for approaching a challenging situation.

“There is a lot of talk about physical exercises but not a lot about how to keep your mental health; this is why I was interested in attending the workshop. Last year we had quite a high number of suicides in our neighbourhood. The workshop taught me how to speak to people who are going through something difficult,” says Ruxandra.

Team co-ordinator and community volunteer Dora Fa’amoe says she had a phenomenal experience with the course.

“It brought up things that I had never given thought to, such as reasons why people behave the way they do and how to cope with these behaviours. As a manager, I wanted to know the right way to respond to individuals who are experiencing mental health concerns. The strategies are simple and comprehensive.”

The workshops are held at various locations within the region. For more information and to register for the free workshop visit:


Issued by:   Counties Manukau Health Communications

Media Line:  09 250 9857   Email:

Posted in media release;

Less than a minute to read Communications Team

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