Mental Health First Aid

About Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a course that teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training gives participants the skills needed 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 mental health crisis. Mental Health First Aid takes the fear and hesitation out of starting conversations about mental health and substance use problems by improving understanding and providing an action plan that teaches people to safely and responsibly identify and address a potential mental illness or substance use disorder. Mental Health First Aiders are individuals who want to make their community healthier, happier and safer for all. For more information, visit:



When somebody is suffering from physical trauma, most people would know to call 9-1-1. But too few of us would know how to respond if we saw someone having a panic attack or if we were concerned that a friend or co-worker might be showing signs of depression or suicidal thoughts. Mental health complications are inconspicuous, and individuals experiencing mental health difficulties often do not receive the proper assistance they need. 

Having UCI employees trained under the MHFA curriculum can help achieve the goal of promoting employee mental health wellness through decreasing stigma of mental health within the UCI community, raising awareness of UCI mental health resources, and lowering stress, anxiety and depression rates amongst the UCI community. When more people are equipped with the tools they need to start a dialogue, more people can get the help they need, and even save lives. 


Program Goals:

  • Have UCI/UCI Health certified instructors deliver the Mental Health First Aid course to UCI and UCI Health employees so they can:
    • Recognize signs, symptoms and risk factors of mental illnesses and addictions 
    • Identify multiple types of professional and self-help resources for individuals with a mental illness or addiction
    • Help an individual in distress
    • Decrease stigma of mental health within the UCI community
    • Raise awareness of UCI mental health resources
    • Lower stress, anxiety and depression rates amongst the UCI community


Program Funding:

  • The certification of UCI instructors, all training materials, and delivery of the curriculum to UCI employees will be coordinated by the UCI Faculty and Staff Support Services Office and funded in partnership by UCI Human Resources - Wellness. Once certified, UCI instructors are also able to provide the course to other UCI and non-UCI community members, such as UCI student groups or community partners. Course materials for non-UCI employee groups would not be funded, but could be separately purchased on an as needed basis.


What Does the Training Involve?

  • 16 UCI employees trained as MHFA instructors will teach 8-hour virtual courses following the MHFA curriculum
  • Necessary course materials for UCI-affiliated employee groups will be mailed directly free of charge 
  • A certificate will be issued to course participants upon passing


Current UCI & UCI Health Certified MHFA Instructors:

Name Title Department
Aubrey Bayoneta Department Assistant School of Arts
Cheng T. Ko Senior Disability Specialist Disability Services
Dean Kamalei Wong Medical Student Coordinator SOM - Anesthesiology
Deana McRae Associate Dean, Graduate Medical Education SOM - Psychiatry & Human Behavior
Deirdre O'Reilly Alternative Media Specialist Disability Services
Erin Knox Director Experiential Pharmacy Education
Jason Ryba Team Challenge Director Campus Recreation
Joseph Morales Associate Director, Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships Office of Inclusive Excellence
Julian Thach Financial Analyst SOM - Pathology
Kaeleigh Hayakawa Violence Prevention Coordinator UCI CARE
Lou Gill Director of Mesa Court Housing Housing
Megan Enciso Director of Student Affairs Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing
Melissa Bader Huesgen Violence Prevention Coordinator UCI CARE
Negar Shekarabi Coordinator Faculty/Staff Support Services
Pirjo Carlisle Chaplain Patient Experience/Pastoral Care Services

Request a MHFA Training and/or Register for an upcoming course:

Coming Soon!