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Mental Health First Aid Legislation

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 staff recognize the signs of mental health disorders in young people and find them appropriate care.

The Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013 (S. 153/H.R. 274) 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 addiction 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, increase guidance to professional help, and improves concordance with health professionals about treatment.

The Mental Health First Aid Act (S. 153/H.R. 274) was introduced in the House by Congressman Ron Barber (D-AZ) and in the Senate by Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) with 9 bipartisan cosponsors. The National Council for Behavioral Health urges Members of Congress to cosponsor this important legislation.

Learn more
  • View the text of S. 153 and H.R. 274
  • See Congressman Ron Barber’s (D-AZ) letter urging Vice President Biden to include the Mental Health First Aid Act in the Gun Violence Task Force’s recommendations.
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