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Stress First Aid

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Stress first aid (SFA) is a program that helps people develop skills to recover from stressful situations. It was first created by the United States Navy but has been adapted for use by other professions and can be used by the public, too. The model includes peer support and has seven core actions that are focused on identifying and addressing problems associated with various levels of stress in yourself and others. It is a widely used model that takes a real-life approach to managing responses to stressor, whether short-term, chronic, large, or small.  

Sometimes, you or someone you know needs a bit more help. That's okay. Anyone can reach out to the Ohio CareLine, 24 hours a day, to talk to a licensed clinician for free, confidential emotional support. Call 1-800-720-9616 to get connected.

The tools below allow you to learn more about Stress First Aid and even teach it to others.


What is Stress First Aid?

Everyone experiences stress. Stress First Aid is a model for resiliency that addresses that stress, large or small. The goal of Stress First Aid is to understand stress on a spectrum, and help move people from unhealthy reactions to healthier ones.

Many people may have been trained in some sort of support or response strategy and may wonder if they are all the same. What is the difference between Stress First Aid, Mental Health First Aid, and Psychological First Aid? Psychological First Aid (PFA) is an intervention used as part of an initial disaster response. The goal of PFA is to help those affected be safe, become stable in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, and to connect them with help and resources to help them in their recovery. Mental Health First Aid is a program and approach that teaches people how to recognize, understand, and address mental illness and substance use disorders. Finally, Stress First Aid is a model that can be applied to any stressor and used with any person.

Stress First Aid Presentation

The presentation below is available for your use personally or for teaching peers. It is designed to be taught in a 30-minute course.


The following handouts can be used to help teach and understand Stress First Aid.

Social Media

The images linked below are available to download and share. There are also suggested posts for each of the 7Cs of Stress First Aid.

What is your stress level
7Cs of Stress First Aid

Facebook and LinkedIn Graphics

Twitter Graphics

Suggested Post Text

  • Has a friend or loved one seemed not quite him or herself lately? Check in to see how you can help and offer support. Learn more at mha.ohio.gov/stressfirstaid.
  • Lending a supportive ear to a friend who is experiencing stress can help him or her have a more positive outlook. Learn other ways you can help by visiting mha.ohio.gov/stressfirstaid.
  • Is something causing you or a friend a lot of stress? It's okay to ask for help or coordinate help for someone else. You can reach out to the Ohio CareLine at any time for free emotional support at 1-800-720-9616. Learn more about tackling stress at mha.ohio.gov/stressfirstaid.
  • Increasing someone’s sense of safety can help them better deal with a stressful situation. Learn more ways to help someone in need by visiting mha.ohio.gov/stressfirstaid.
  • During a stressful situation, a person’s emotions can feel out of control. Reassuring him or her that he or she is safe in that moment can help that individual feel more calm and grounded. Visit mha.ohio.gov/stressfirst aid to learn more.
  • Stress can cause sleep issues and keep you from relaxing. Try to calm your stress by refocusing your attention. Try to slow your heart rate and give your mind a much-needed time out. Learn more about coping with stress at mha.ohio.gov/stressfirstaid
  • Connecting with others can reduce feelings of isolation during times of stress. Visit mha.ohio.gov/stressfirstaid for more tips.
  • Finding a new hobby or learning a new skill can help you better cope during times of stress. Learn more healthy ways to cope with stress by visiting mha.ohio.gov/stressfirstaid.
  • Self-care is an important part of maintaining good mental health. Doing an activity you enjoy can help decrease feelings of stress. Learn more at mha.ohio.gov/stressfirstaid.
  • Sometimes a person dealing with a stressful situation can feel hopeless and struggle with feelings of self-worth. Simply being there for someone and showing empathy can help a him or her to overcome feelings of self-doubt and increase self-esteem during times of stress. For more tips to help restore confidence, visit mha.ohio.gov/stressfirstaid.

The materials in this toolkit are adapted from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD, Stress First Aid program.