The mental health first aid eLearning course for medical students: a pilot evaluation study

  • B. Davies
  • E. Beever
  • C. Glazebrook


Background: Stressors and demands involved with studying medicine have the potential to greatly impact medical students’ mental health, which could increase their risk for mental health problems and affect their future practice. Depression and anxiety are common problems experienced by medical students, but they are often reluctant to seek help and are more likely to rely on their peers for support. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an intervention designed to improve people’s mental health literacy, abilities and self-confidence to support themselves and others experiencing a mental health problem or crisis. This study aimed to pilot the MHFA eLearning course with medical students. Methods: Fifty-two medical students were randomised to receive the MHFA eLearning intervention (N=24) or no-access control (N=28). Both groups completed baseline and follow-up surveys measuring MHFA intentions, confidence to help a friend, and personal stigma. Feedback about the study’s methodology and the MHFA eLearning intervention was collected at follow-up. Quantitative data were analysed through ANOVA and non-parametric analyses. Content analysis was used to explore qualitative data. Findings: Compared to control, those who received MHFA eLearning intervention reported greater improvements in MHFA intentions (p=<.001), confidence to help a friend (p=<.001) and personal stigma (p=.007). Students’ feedback suggested they found the MHFA eLearning course interesting, and informative for their studies and their personal life. Discussion: The pilot study suggests the MHFA eLearning course is a potentially useful intervention for UK medical students and can help improve their knowledge, skills and self-confidence to support someone experiencing a mental health problem.
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