“In a nation facing a crisis in care for people with mental illnesses and addictions, widespread training in Mental Health First Aid for every American increases the chance that people will get the initial support they need and crisis can be averted.”
– National Council for Behavioral Health
One million people have been trained in Mental Health First Aid nationwide, the National Council for Behavioral Health announced today at their annual conference in Seattle. This groundbreaking program teaches the skills needed to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance abuse challenges and crises.
“One million people now know how to recognize when someone needs help,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. “That is an incredible beginning. Today, Mental Health First Aid is being offered to everyone from nurses and leaders in faith communities, to teachers and emergency medical technicians. We believe every American could benefit from this training and vow to work hard to spread the word until Mental Health First Aid is as common as CPR.”
Mental Health First Aid Instructors are as diverse as the people they train. The program has received a significant boost from health care staff who delivered the program to nearly a quarter-million people nationwide, while elementary and secondary schools delivered the training to nearly 100,000 people who interact with youth in school and community settings. Colleges and universities trained nearly 50,000 people.
Endorsements from the criminal justice community have made Mental Health First Aid a priority for police departments around the nation. In October, the International Association of Chiefs of Police called for 100 percent of sworn officers to be trained. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) has trained all 16,000 of its staff members, and similar initiatives are underway in DOCs in New York, Connecticut, Wyoming and Texas. In total, more than 80,000 criminal justice personnel have been trained in Mental Health First Aid across the United States.
The program’s visibility has been elevated by public leaders who have been trained, including former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and television personality Dr. Oz.
Rosenberg said, “Even as we celebrate reaching one million Mental Health First Aiders trained, we cannot ignore the sobering state of mental health in America. The country is at a critical juncture and we must remain vigilant. Referring people in crisis to local services is an important component of this training and we must ensure that the country’s behavioral health system is up to the job.”