Year: 2018 Source: American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. (2018). 82(2): 6222. doi: 0.5688/ajpe6222 SIEC No: 20180396

Objective. To evaluate mental health first aid (MHFA) skills using simulated patients and to compare self-reported confidence in providing MHFA with performance during simulated patient roleplays.

Methods. Pharmacy students self-evaluated their confidence in providing MHFA post-training. Two mental health vignettes and an assessment rubric based on the MHFA Action Plan were developed to assess students’ observed MHFA skills during audio-recorded simulated patient roleplays.

Results. There were 163 students who completed the MHFA training, of which 88% completed self-evaluations. There were 84% to 98% of students who self-reported that they agreed or strongly agreed they were confident providing MHFA. Postnatal depression (PND) and suicide vignettes were randomly assigned to 36 students. More students participating in the PND roleplay took appropriate actions, compared to those participating in the suicide role-play. However, more students participating in the suicide role play assessed alcohol and/or drug use. Ten (71%) participants in the PND roleplay and six (40%) in the suicide roleplay either avoided using suicide-specific terminology completely or used multiple terms rendering their inquiry unclear.

Conclusion. Self-evaluated confidence levels in providing MHFA did not always reflect observed performance. Students had difficulty addressing suicide with only half passing the suicide vignette and many avoiding suicide-specific terminology. This indicates that both self-reported and observed behaviors should be used for post-training assessments.