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Mental Health First Aid USA Expands Network of Instructors in Diverse Communities with Support from Kaiser Permanente and iHeartMedia

A $148,000 contribution from Kaiser Permanente and iHeartMedia increases access to MHFA trainings in diverse communities with a need for increased mental health and substance use challenge resources

Portland, Ore. – July 15, 2021 – Mental Health First Aid USA (MHFA) and Kaiser Permanente will join efforts to dramatically increase MHFA’s network of instructors in diverse communities and teach more people to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges.

MHFA, a public education program of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, and Kaiser Permanente, one of America’s leading health care providers, made the announcement in recognition of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. The effort is intended to support communities of color in California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, Washington state, and Washington, D.C.

“Now that we’ve gone through more than a year of a traumatic, inequity-exacerbating pandemic, the need to shine a spotlight on minority mental health has never been clearer. Mental Health First Aid USA is proud to have strong partners like Kaiser Permanente and iHeart Media who recognize the mental health resource gap in diverse communities and are rising to help fill it. With their support we can continue the important work of building a culturally competent and inclusive First Aider network to ensure healthier, happier, safer communities are accessible to all,” said Deanna Roepke, Vice President and General Manager, Mental Health First Aid USA.

MHFA training, which includes content on cultural considerations and overcoming stigma, equips people with the knowledge, confidence, and skills needed to reach out and provide initial help to someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates one in five American adults experience a mental health challenge in a given year, and almost half of all Americans will experience a mental health challenge during the course of their lifetime. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show adverse mental or behavioral health symptoms have been especially prevalent in Black and Hispanic communities since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Kaiser Permanente is committed to removing the barriers that prevent people from seeking the support and care they need. Mental Health First Aid is a proven program that helps communities better understand mental health and encourages those who need it to seek timely intervention,” said Don Mordecai, MD, Kaiser Permanente’s National Leader for Mental Health and Wellness. “These programs can help make a positive difference in our diverse communities by bringing mental health and wellness out in the open and creating a culture of acceptance and support.”

iHeartMedia, the number one audio company in the United States, joins the collaboration as an awareness partner throughout Minority Mental Health Month. On-air messaging distributed across the more than 40 iHeartRadio stations in participating states throughout the campaign will encourage listeners to get informed – and trained – on the resources offered by MHFA.

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About National Council on Mental Wellbeing

Founded in 1969, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing is a membership organization that drives policy and social change on behalf of nearly 3,500 mental health and substance use treatment organizations and the more than 10 million children, adults and families they serve. We advocate for policies to ensure equitable access to high-quality services. We build the capacity of mental health and substance use treatment organizations. And we promote greater understanding of mental wellbeing as a core component of comprehensive health and health care. Through our Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program, we have trained more than 2.5 million people in the U.S. to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve approximately 12.5 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.


National Council for Mental Wellbeing
Sophia Majlessi

Kaiser Permanente
Vincent Staupe

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