On Tuesday, May 24, Mental Health First Aid instructors and champions addressed a packed room on Capitol Hill to share stories about how Mental Health First Aid has saved their life, or the lives of others in their communities. For the second year in a row, the National Council has hosted this briefing, bringing Mental Health First Aid to congressional staffers during May as Mental Health Month.
Speakers for this briefing included: Michael Allora, Deputy Fire Chief at the Clifton, NJ Fire Department; Alyssa Fruchtenicht, a school-based mental health coordinator from Waterloo, IA; Virgil Meyer, a Lieutenant with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections; and Tousha Paxton-Barnes, a U.S. Army Veteran.
Each speaker discussed how Mental Health First Aid has made an impact in their lives—from helping them connect a student and their parents with appropriate treatment, to de-escalating a situation with a prison inmate in crisis using empathy and compassion. They also urged the congressional staff in attendance to support the Mental Health First Aid Act (S. 711/ H.R.1877), which would authorize $20 million in grants to fund Mental Health First Aid trainings across the country. Support and passage of this bill will be a key legislative ask of advocates at next month’s National Council Hill Day.
“Mental Health First Aid literally saves lives,” said Allora. “If you are providing services to people, you need this training. Mental Health First Aid should not be optional.”
The briefing was hosted by sponsors of the Mental Health First Aid Act: Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA). For more information on the briefing and to read the speakers’ full statements, click here.
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