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National Council Recognizes 2024 Mental Health First Aid Impact Award Recipients

Media Contact
Irene Tung

Washington, D.C. (April 15, 2024) – In a ceremony held at the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Summit in St. Louis on April 14, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing recognized Arkansas Rural Health Partnership, Humana Foundation, WestCare Foundation and four MHFA Instructors and Coordinators for their significant efforts in expanding MHFA’s reach in their local communities and beyond.

The annual MHFA Impact Awards — which include Organization of the Year, Partner of the Year, Excellence Award, Instructors of the Year and Coordinator of the Year — celebrate individuals and groups that have had an influence on their communities by changing the conversation surrounding mental wellbeing. The top criteria used to determine the MHFA Impact Award winners include the number of individuals trained in MHFA, measurable impact, and excellence and effectiveness while conducting the training course.

“The 2024 Impact Award winners are being celebrated for their creative and compassionate work in implementing MHFA training to members of their community,” said MHFA Vice President Tramaine EL-Amin. “Arkansas Rural Health Partnership, Humana Foundation and WestCare Foundation have demonstrated what it means to be a leader in changing the national conversation on wellbeing, and the National Council is grateful for their support in empowering people across the country to assist each other in times of need through MHFA.”

The 2024 Impact Award honorees are:

Organization of the Year: This award recognizes a group that has implemented creative solutions to expand MHFA within its organization and externally.

  • Arkansas Rural Health Partnership: Arkansas Rural Health Partnership (ARHP) is a nonprofit health care network comprising 18 rural hospital members, three medical teaching institutions and two federally qualified health centers throughout rural Arkansas. Over the past six years, ARHP has trained more than 2,000 Arkansans to identify, understand and respond to symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges through MHFA. Among the creative solutions it has implemented to broaden the reach of MHFA is partnering with health care organizations, local colleges, education departments, public safety officials, Girl Scout troops and insurance companies.

Partner of the Year: This award is given to a National Council strategic partner that has been a champion of MHFA and supported the program’s growth.

  • Humana Foundation: The Humana Foundation advances health equity and fosters evidence-based collaborations and investments that help people in underserved communities live connected, healthy lives. The National Council was recently awarded the Humana Foundation Health Equity Innovation Fund to develop an Adult MHFA community implementation toolkit, which will provide essential best practices, tools, resources and recommendations for communities to sustainably implement MHFA. The grant will support the development, research, testing and launch of the MHFA toolkit over the next three years.

Excellence Award: Introduced this year, this award celebrates an organization that has delivered MHFA training with excellence — from strategy and outreach to implementation.

  • WestCare Foundation: WestCare Foundation is a comprehensive behavioral health and human services agency operating across 17 states and three U.S. territories. The organization offers in-person, virtual and blended MHFA courses and provides training for special populations, including veterans, active-duty service members, military families, local public safety departments and school districts. WestCare has partnered with Nevada’s Office of Suicide Prevention to ensure that every Clark County District school with over 300 students enrolled has at least one adult trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA). Their tireless efforts have culminated in training over 15,000 people across the country.

MHFA Instructors and Coordinator of the Year: “Instructors and Coordinators make a vital contribution to the National Council’s mission to make mental wellbeing, including recovery from mental health or substance use challenges, a reality for everyone,” said EL-Amin. “By training people in their communities in MHFA, Instructors serve as an essential link to ensure that everyone in the U.S. has a close friend, family member or confidant to turn to for support.”

  • Adult Mental Health First Aid: Nikita Joslyn, LMSW, is the Director of Business Development for The Connection, a human development agency in Connecticut. Nikita has been a certified Adult, Youth and teen MHFA Instructor since 2016. She has worked to bring MHFA to other nonprofit organizations, universities and state agencies, and has trained over 1,600 individuals. Nikita was awarded the Top MHFA Instructor for Connecticut in 2022 and 2023. She also leads and mentors a growing team of MHFA Instructors in the state. Nikita is dedicated to the belief that MHFA training is transformational in terms of reducing stigma and highlighting individuals’ shared social accountability to provide support to those in need.
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid: Alana Holm, MSW, currently serves as a Peer Support Program Coordinator for Compeer Buffalo in Buffalo, New York. She has been facilitating MHFA training since 2014 and is certified as an Adult, Youth and teen MHFA Instructor. In both 2019 and 2020, she received recognition as a Top MHFA Trainer in New York.
  • Mental Health First Aid Community-specific Course: EdRicardo J. Gándara, Community Educator, Emergence Health Network, has been a MHFA Instructor since 2015 and is certified in Adult, Youth and teen MHFA. Formerly a Detention Officer at El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, EdRicardo continues to teach mental health stigma reduction courses at the Sheriff’s Academy.
  • Coordinator of the Year: Amy Anderson, MHFA Grants Director/Coordinator/Training Specialist at Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Centers (MHDDC), is being honored for facilitating MHFA trainings in the 19 counties and over 23,000 miles in Texas that MHDDC covers. Amy is certified in all MHFA modules and has trained over 1,000 teens in teen MHFA.

Over 3 million people across the country have been trained in MHFA since the National Council introduced the program to the U.S. in 2008. Read more about the MHFA Instructor role and apply to become one today.



About The National Council 

Founded in 1969, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing is a membership organization that drives policy and social change on behalf of over 3,400 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 3 million people in the U.S. to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges.

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