First Aid for Mental Health
See the world through the eyes of others

  Recordings Now Available








One in every five Americans (52.9 million people) experience mental illness each year

The signs of someone struggling with mental health are often subtle, leaving many conditions undetected and therefore undiagnosed and untreated. It’s important to not only recognize these signs in ourselves but in our family, friends and colleagues so that we can give them the support they need when they need it.

Recognizing this gap in care and the results from the 2021 Clergy Well-being Survey showing a steady decline in mental and emotional health, Wespath is offering first aid training for mental health.

First aid training for mental health is a two-part webinar training. Leading the training is Chris White, an international UK government hostage and crisis negotiator and First Aid for Mental Health trainer. This training will teach you how to identify and understand mental health challenges with empathy, and without judgment.

According to White, “We all have our ‘window on the world’ and that window is in a room. The First Aid for Mental Health concept of empathy is listening without judgment to earn the right to enter another person’s room and look at the world through their window." First Aid for Mental Health teaches you how to be invited (or welcomed) into someone else’s room, see the world through their window and get them the help they need. It also teaches you how to accept and understand your own mental health needs, without embarrassment or shame.

Session 1 - The Basics
Duration: 60 minutes

The first session teaches the foundational concepts of mental health, the ability to identify when you or someone else may have mental health needs that require assistance and the skills to start a conversation and get them the help they need. Session 1 includes topics on:

  • Current mental health challenges and statistics
  • Influences, stress, vulnerability and self-awareness
  • Stigma, discrimination and promoting inclusion
  • Identifying and coping with stress; exploring our own ‘stress signatures’
  • First Aid for Mental Health: principles to approaching and helping others

Session 2 – A Deeper Dive
Duration: 60 minutes

The second session dives deeper into external influences, stress, vulnerability and ways in which our thoughts, feelings and behaviors are impacted every day. It provides practical methods for how to manage ourselves and others in crisis. Session 2 topics include:

  • Personal resilience and staying well
  • Understanding ways in which we can become unwell
  • An introduction to depression, substance abuse, anxiety and self-harm—risk factors and First Aid for Mental Health interventions
  • Suicide and First Aid for Mental Health for suicidal crisis
  • Connecting with others, active listening and understanding common personal barriers to having an effective conversation


Chris White - Alert: 24 Senior Consultant

With a deep understanding of the human factors that underpin mental well-being and resilience, Chris’ unique insights have helped people in crisis around the world.

Chris is a leading international UK government hostage and crisis negotiator and First Aid for Mental Health trainer with extensive international experience in non-traditional, hostile and sensitive areas. In addition to his base in the UK, he has lived and operated in the United States, South Africa, Jamaica, Nigeria, Kenya, Iraq and Afghanistan, giving him a global perspective across a broad spectrum of cultures, religions, values and belief systems.

A graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, Chris is a member of the International Security Managers Association Senior Executive Leadership Program and a First Aid for Mental Health professional. Chris belongs to a global network of fellow mental health and well-being professionals, enabling him to keep pace with changing global methodology and continuously develop his professional knowledge.

Chris lives in England with his family and uses his spare time to engage with local community projects.

Session 1: The Basics

An Introduction to Mental Health: Why does it matter?
A look at the session ahead, facts/stats and why this subject is important today

The Mental Health Continuum: Where is your ‘red dot’?
How our mental health moves along the continuum and how ‘no diagnosis’ does not mean ‘no mental illness’

Stigma and Discrimination
How mental illness still carries stigma and leads to discrimination and how we can all help to reduce these factors

Frame of Reference: Your ‘window on the world’
How our individual frame of reference is created and a live demonstration on how people can have a very different take on a single topic

Basic Needs: Ignore them at your peril
Introducing the seven basic needs as an alternative way of understanding how well we are doing

Stress, Stressors and Understanding our Own Capacity
A simple model to understand our own capacities for coping with stress and monitoring nourishing versus depleting habits

Thinking Distortions
Understanding three common thinking distortions (Generalization, Labelling and Catastrophizing) and how to overcome them by putting our thoughts ‘on trial’

Connecting, Influencing and Persuading Part 1: Communication skills
An introduction to the techniques used by hostage negotiators to build rapport, create better connections, and have more meaningful conversations (this topic will continue and be covered in more depth during Session 2)

Follow-up items from Session 1:

Bonus Content: Q&A with Chris White

Session 2: A Deeper Dive

Understanding Common Mental Illness Experiences: How can we help?
Key facts around depression, substance misuse, self-harm and eating disorders, and examining how First Aid for Mental Health can have a positive impact on those affected

Suicide and First Aid for Mental Health
Key facts and myth-busting around suicide and practical tools for dealing with people in suicidal crisis

Connecting, Influencing and Persuading Part 2
An in-depth look at the techniques used by hostage negotiators, including ways to defuse conflict and practical methods to connect with people in crisis

Follow-up items from Session 2:

Champions Training  

First Aid for Mental Health Champions Training
First Aid for Mental Health Champions Training is a virtual, interactive experience that gives attendees practice leveraging the empathy and listening skills to support someone in a mental health crisis. The training will build upon concepts and techniques presented in the introductory First Aid for Mental Health webinars, including active listening, understanding other people’s window on the world and the stress container. The training is non-clinical and is not meant to replace mental health treatment.

After the training, champions will feel empowered to lead the conversation in their annual conferences and help them facilitate conversations and initiatives that support mental health.

What to Expect of Champions Training?

  • Revisit and explore concepts taught in the webinars
  • Role play and simulation of “in the moment” pressure to prepare attendees for real-life interactions
  • Debrief and learn from role playing activities
  • A packet to take home which activities champions should be committed to put into practice
  • Ideas for continuing the conversation within the annual conference and United Methodist Church
  • Each session will last 5-6 hours and will be limited to (12) attendees to maximize participation.
  • Sessions will begin in July and continue throughout the year. Attendees will only attend one session.

IMPORTANT: Interactions will include situations some may find triggering. Given the material covered, participants may find the training to be emotionally draining.

Champion Training Selection
Leaders of each annual conference will select two individuals to attend the First Aid for Mental Health Champions Training. To be considered for the training, you must have attended or watched both First Aid for Mental Aid webinars. First Aid for Mental Health Champions will play a critical role for annual conferences, so it is important that they not only attend the training but also put the learning to use.

The following are expectations of anyone considering becoming a champion:

  • Believe strongly in the concepts of First Aid for Mental Health such as empathy, active listening and non-judgmental thinking
  • Desire to practice and use the skills in their everyday interactions
  • Committed to help others learn and possess the skills learned in the champions training
  • Comfortable working and talking with clergy and other Church leaders

Annual conference staff will select the champions, so if you are interested in being a First Aid for Mental Health Champion, please contact your Conference Benefits Office.

Frequently Asked Questions  

What is First Aid for Mental Health?
First Aid for Mental Health teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to those struggling with mental health. The training will give you the skills to recognize the signs and start a conversation with someone who may be going through a difficult time. First Aid for Mental Health strives to erase the mental health stigma and enforces the idea that it’s OK, not to be OK.

Who is First Aid for Mental Health for?
First Aid for Mental Health is for EVERYONE. Clergy and their spouses, Church leaders, staff and congregation members can all benefit from first aid training for mental health. The skills acquired can be applied to many situations, including home, social and professional environments. The goal of First Aid for Mental Health is not to make everyone a mental health professional, but to raise awareness and remove the stigma and/or judgment that can accompany mental health conditions.

Why does First Aid for Mental Health work?
First Aid for Mental Health teaches the skills to listen without judgment and with empathy. It drives home the notion that mental health is everyone’s concern—it can’t always be left to professionals. In addition, the training will enable you to recognize your own stressors and vulnerabilities, allowing you to better manage and maintain your own mental health.

Why is it important to watch both training sessions?
Session 1 introduces foundational concepts and skills that enable people to open a dialog about mental health. Session 2 moves from concept to context, providing examples of how to apply these skills in everyday situations.

Session 1 Agenda

Session 2 Agenda