The Family Assistance Education & Research Foundation (FAERF) has been at the forefront of the evolution of emergency management, combining the head-heart approach for a fully integrated response to survivors of traumatic loss. Practicing consciousness in the workplace involves caring for people first, without exception.

Mental Health First Aid as an Elective in FAERF’s I-HARP™ Certificate


Written by: Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D.

February 2024

Raising compassion consciousness in the workplace includes increasing awareness about mental health challenges and de-stigmatizing mental illness, an obvious fit as a training program for those interested in humanitarian assistance response.

   The FAERF Institute continues to refine plans for the I-HARP™ Certificate. Members will have several ways credits can be earned toward the Certificate in addition to the core curriculum available online. Members can also earn credits during the Summer Webinar Series and Member-Partner Meetings. In addition to the required courses, credits will be provided for specific electives, such as Mental Health First Aid Certification (MHFA).

    FAERF offers MHFA Certification in two different ways. In-person classes are hosted by member corporations at various times in the year, as pre- or post-workshops at Member-Partner Meetings and in the virtual format. As classes are made available throughout the year, announcements are made in flyers, newsletters, and on the FAERF website events page. 

    MHFA is made available through the National Council of Mental Well-Being in the US and sponsored by various Mental Health agencies worldwide. MHFA began in 2000 in Australia by an educator who was also a consumer of mental health resources and a mental health researcher. 2008 the National Council and two other state health agencies brought MHFA to the US. FAERF began offering courses to members in 2022. 

    While the program follows the format established by the National Council, there are ample opportunities for the facilitators to illustrate the main points with examples of employees from the various workgroups being trained. For example, in the certification of aviation, cruise line, and various employee groups, there are examples specific to the workplace where employees have shared about challenges they have faced with depression and other challenges where support from peers, friends, co-workers, and family members was helpful. 

    A primary objective of the course is that recovery from a mental health challenge is possible, and examples from FAERF’s case files are provided in class to illustrate this point. Participants are trained to recognize early warning signs of a mental health challenge that might impact adults and are taught an intervention that is based on five steps.

ALGEE is the Five Step Intervention for MHFA

    ALGEE is the 5-step intervention, and the letters stand for: Assess, Approach, Listen, Give reassurance and information, Encourage appropriate professional help, Encourage self-help, and other support strategies. The class is highly interactive, and there is a great deal of group discussion where participants can ask questions and make the training relevant to them and their needs. There is no requirement that attendees volunteer information about themselves – the entire class is built around choice, i.e., to make the class work for each participant. 

    You can be an advocate, empower your community, and improve self-care. For more information about upcoming classes, please get in touch with Kristine Budaha ( who administers the classes for FAERF.

Be sure to check for the latest information on upcoming events.

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