Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that can help individuals across the community to understand mental illnesses, support timely intervention, and save lives. Get Involved Take the CourseFind a course or instructor in your community Already a Mental Health First Aider?Connect with us on Facebook and share your stories Bring Mental Health First Aid to Your CommunityGet certified to teach the course Already a Mental Health First Aid Instructor?Log in to report your courses, order manuals, or get ongoing support and resources Donate to Grow Mental Health First AidYour support makes a difference — help to grow Mental Health First Aid in the U.
S. Advocate for Mental Health First AidAsk your federal and state legislators to support Mental Health First Aid legislative activity Why Mental Health First Aid? One in five Americans has a mental illness and many are reluctant to seek help or might not know where to turn for care. The symptoms of mental illness can be difficult to detect — even when friends and family of someone who appears to be developing a mental illness can tell that something is amiss, they may not know how to intervene or direct the person to proper treatment – which means that all too often, those in need of mental health services do not get them until it is too late.
As a society, we largely remain ignorant about the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses, and we ignore our role as responsible community members to help people experiencing these illnesses. What is Mental Health First Aid? Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health concerns, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments.
The course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect persons to professional, peer and social supports as well as self-help resources. Mental Health First Aid allows for early detection and intervention by teaching participants about the signs and symptoms of specific illnesses like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and addictions.
The program offers concrete tools and answers key questions like “What can I do?” and “Where can someone find help?” Participants are introduced to local mental health resources, national organizations, support groups, and online tools for mental health and addictions treatment and support. Mental Health First Aid USA is operated by the National Council for Behavioral Health. Read more about the program in our special 5th Anniversary edition of National Council Magazine.
Reach and Audiences In 2008, the National Council for Behavioral Health brought Mental Health First Aid to the U.S. To date, more than 1 million people in communities across the country have been trained in Mental Health First Aid through a network of more than 12,000 certified instructors. Mental Health First Aid has been taught to a variety of audiences, including: health, human services, and social workers; employers and business leaders; faith community leaders; college and university staff and faculty; law enforcement and public safety officials; veterans and family members; persons with mental illness-addictions and their families; and other caring citizens.
Certified instructors teach the program in communities across the United States. To find a course or contact an instructor in your area, visit www.MentalHealthFirstAid.org. Youth Mental Health First Aid Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach neighbors, teachers, parents, peers, and caring citizens how to help a youth or teen who is experiencing a mental health or substanceuse challenge or is in crisis.
The course discusses mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and provides guidance through the ALGEE action plan for both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered in the manual include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders. Advocacy and Mental Health First Aid Mental Health First Aid can become more widespread across the country.
Read more about the Mental Health First Aid Act to hear how, and how you can support the act in your community. Advocates wishing to pursue legislation for Mental Health First Aid at the state or local level should read through our State Policy Toolkit.
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2014 State Policy Toolkit In the 2013-2014 fiscal year, 21 states introduced or considered legislation or appropriations for Mental Health First Aid. Learn what you can do to take action in your state, and what strategies get the attention of policymakers and other community stakeholders. Read the Executive Summary Determine what has already happened in your state with the 2013-2014 State Policy Tracking Chart.
Download the full toolkit. President Obama calls for Mental Health First Aid training In his report, Now Is the Time: The President’s Plan to Protect our Children and our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence, President Obama calls for Mental Health First Aid training to help teachers and school staff recognize the signs of mental health disorders in young people and find them appropriate care.
The Mental Health First Aid Act The Mental Health First Aid Act of 2015 (S. 711/H.R. 1877) authorizes $20 million in grants to fund Mental Health First Aid training programs around the country. Participants would be trained in: Recognizing the symptoms of common mental illnesses and substance use disorders. De-escalating crisis situations safely. Initiating timely referral to mental health and substance abuse resources available in the community.
Training programs under this demonstration project would be offered to emergency services personnel, police officers, teachers/school administrators, primary care professionals, students, and others with the goal of improving Americans’ mental health, reducing stigma around mental illness, and helping people who may be at risk of suicide or self-harm and referring them to appropriate treatment. Studies have shown that Mental Health First Aid successfully increases help provided to others and guidance to professional help, and improves concordance with health professionals about treatment.
The Mental Health First Aid Act (S. 711/H.R. 1877) was introduced in the House by Congresswomen Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) and in the Senate by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). Federal Grants for Mental Health First Aid For the third year in a row, the fiscal year 2016 budget included a $15 million appropriation for Mental Health First Aid. The National Council is grateful to Congress for this support.
The Mental Health First Aid Act will help solidify the future of this funding by providing statutory authorization clearly delineating Congressional intent regarding the scope of the program. Learn More Take Action