Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 65% of employees say they are rethinking the place that work should have in their lives, and 56% say they want to contribute more to society. Additionally, 31% of the 4.3 million Americans who quit their jobs in January 2022 did so to start a new business, shining a spotlight on the massive shift toward self-employment and the gig economy. If this strikes a chord, know that you’re not alone, and better yet, we may have a solution for you!
As the number of Americans facing mental health and substance use challenges continues to grow, it is more important than ever before to equip communities with the skills to recognize and respond to the signs and symptoms that indicate someone may need help. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) does just that. MHFA Instructors are the key to spreading this vital and practical training across the country. Our certified Instructors are on the frontlines of the MHFA program and are helping make mental wellbeing, including recovery from substance use, a reality for everyone, everywhere.
Anyone with a passion for wellbeing can make a difference, and no specific academic or professional credentials are required to become an MHFA Instructor. Here we will explore a few reasons to get certified:
1. Connect — bring your community together
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness. This means essentially everyone knows someone affected by a mental health or substance use challenge. Humans are social beings, and being a part of a community is crucial for us to thrive. This is particularly prevalent now. More than two years of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders resulting from the pandemic have left many people reeling from symptoms of social anxiety, and they are longing for the sense of belonging, support and purpose that communities provide. By becoming an MHFA Instructor, you can not only help create a safe space where open dialogue is encouraged and people can deepen their understanding of one another, but also equip individuals with the skills to go out into the world and strengthen their own communities.
2. Advocate — reduce negative attitudes about mental health and substance use challenges
There is still a great deal of stigma attached to mental health challenges in mainstream society — think about how often television shows depict individuals living with things like schizophrenia or alcohol use disorder as dangerous villains. We know from the MHFA curriculum that public misunderstanding, prejudice and discrimination can hold people back from taking important life opportunities and achieving meaningful supports. Studies have shown that MHFA training improves knowledge, reduces stigmatizing attitudes and increases first aid actions toward people with mental health challenges. As an MHFA Instructor, you help shift the public narrative surrounding mental wellbeing and create a more equitable, understanding world.
3. Educate — build mental health literacy
One of the most persistent and concerning health disparities in our society today is the underutilization of mental health services. In fact, a staggering 43% of U.S. adults who say they needed substance use or mental health care in the past 12 months did not receive that care. Many barriers to treatment are directly related to poor mental health literacy, including limited understanding of therapy and the perception that treatment is too demanding or not relevant to the person’s challenges. It’s understandable, therefore, that there is a significant correlation between poor mental health literacy and elevated rates of depression, anxiety and stress, to name a few. By becoming an MHFA Instructor, you can help people become more trauma-informed and educated about common mental health and substance use challenges affecting your community. This shift can positively impact someone’s life and, over time, our entire society.
4. Lead — show others how they can help
Since the National Council for Mental Wellbeing brought MHFA to the U.S. in 2008, we have trained over 2.6 million Mental Health First Aiders and counting across the country. The more people we empower to be the first line of support for a person in need, the healthier our communities will become. First Aiders serve as a vital link between a person experiencing a new or worsening mental health or substance use challenge and appropriate professional supports, self-help and other support strategies. By becoming a certified MHFA Instructor, you can help us reach our goal of training over 22 million First Aiders to ensure that everyone in America has a close friend they can turn to when experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge before it becomes a crisis. You can #BeTheDifference for those around you who need it most.
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