Past Releases: Mental Health First Aid Expands Reach
Mental health literacy program adds instructors across U.S.
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Washington, DC (October 15, 2008)—Nearly 100 instructors throughout the U.S. are now certified to teach Mental Health First Aid, the nation’s first certification course that enables the public to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis. The innovative new program, introduced in the United States in 2008 by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council), currently has instructors in 11 states and approximately 30 communities.
“As the nation celebrates October as National Health Literacy Month, we’re proud of the strides the program has taken to improve people’s mental health literacy,” says Linda Rosenberg, MSW, president and CEO of the National Council. “We hear every day from our member organizations, consumers, advocates, and state leaders about the value of Mental Health First Aid to their communities and their interest in working with the program in 2009.”
To date, certified Mental Health First Aid instructors primarily represent health and behavioral healthcare, as well as representatives from Emergency Medical Response, the National Guard, and primary care. By year’s end, the Council anticipates nearly 150 certified instructors in the U.S. reaching audiences ranging from employers and educators to faith communities and law enforcement.
Mental Health First Aid is a 12-hour training course designed to give members of the public key skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.
“This is undoubtedly one of the most important education initiatives in decades,” says Lea Ann Browning McNee, Mental Health First Aid trainer at the National Council. “Most people know how to recognize and appropriately react to medical emergencies, but there is little knowledge in the general public about what to do in a mental health crisis.”
McNee is enthused that the first instructors already report a strong response to the simplicity of the program, and have been able to administer the training to wide audiences.
Auspiced at the University of Melbourne and founded by nurse and mental health consumer Betty Kitchener and researcher Anthony Jorm, Mental Health First Aid has built an evidence base in Australia demonstrating that those who complete the 12 hour program feel more comfortable managing a crisis and exhibit increased mental health literacy – being able to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders.
“We believe Mental Health First Aid will ultimately become as common as CPR and First Aid training,” says Rosenberg. “We’re invested in making that happen.”
For more information on the Mental Health First Aid program, visit www.MentalHealthFirstAid.org
The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,400 behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly six million adults, children and families in communities across the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to the fact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitation services offered in community settings help people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders recover and lead productive lives.