Mental Health First Aid Community Grant at Work in Our Community

This feature story has been written by Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia summer student, Laura Dauphinee. We thank Laura for sharing her time, talent and typing to help us change the way people think!

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“We wouldn’t have been able to train our volunteers without this Community Grant.”
 – Hinchinbrook Farm Society

The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is proud to partner with St. John Ambulance Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to offer a Community Grant for Nova Scotians looking to improve their knowledge of mental health and addictions through the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program. MHFA is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Just as physical first aid is administered to an injured person before medical treatment can be obtained, MHFA is given until appropriate treatment is found or until the crisis is resolved. The MHFA Canada program aims to improve mental health literacy, and provide the skills and knowl­edge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague.

Volunteers from Hinchinbrook Farm at MHFA training

Volunteers from Hinchinbrook Farm at MHFA training

“Often times, mental health problems are not easily understood,” says Diana Parks, Director of Learning at St. John Ambulance NS & PEI, “MHFA teaches people that mental health problems are more prevalent than we think. It teaches us to provide that first help for someone and then guide that person towards professional help.”

MHFA was first developed at the Australian National University in 2001. The program has grown to be offered in 25 countries around the globe – including Canada in 2007. Since then, MHFA has trained over 400,000 participants within 14,000 organizations in Canada alone!

Carol Rolfe-Higney, President of Hinchinbrook Farm, recently received a Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia MHFA Community Grant. It allowed twelve members of her organization to take basic MHFA training. Hinchinbrook is a non-profit organization, whose prime objective is to provide a therapeutic horseback riding program to support the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of persons with disabilities. “We work with children with autism, as well as families who bring in children with disabilities and a variety of mental health issues,” says Rolfe-Higney. “This course really helps us to engage with the children and identify specific things we’re worried about with the children.”

Rolfe-Higney also commented on how well-taught the program was. “I thought it was really good. It was taught at a level where everyone was able to retain and understand the information. Both younger and older people took the course, and everyone was able to understand and apply what they learned very easily.”

If you, or your organization, is interested in applying to our Community Grant to receive Mental Health First Aid, visit For more information on the numerous courses offered by our friends at St. John Ambulance NS & PEI, visit