Mental Health First Aid – Because YOU Can Help

by Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO, National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare

“Sometimes, first aid isn’t a bandage, or CPR, or the Heimlich, or calling 911. Sometimes first aid is you.”

You might know lifesaving first aid like the Heimlich Maneuver or even CPR, but
the hard truth is you are more likely to encounter a person in an emotional or mental crisis than someone having a heart attack. Mental disorders are more common than you think − nearly 20 percent of Americans have a diagnosable mental illness. Yet the stigma surrounding mental illness often prevents people from getting the help they need. Mental Health First Aid is a groundbreaking first aid course designed to help individuals and communities spot people in crisis, offer initial help, and connect them with the appropriate care − before the problem worsens.

Anyone can take the course − first responders, teachers, leaders of faith, caring
citizens − because anyone can be a Mental Health First Aider.

Mental Health First Aid is now offered across the country by certified instructors.
When you take this 12-hour program, you’ll learn the true cost of mental illness in
America, the warning signs and risk factors, and a 5-step action plan to help someone
in crisis get the care they need. The training equips participants to provide initial
help until appropriate professional, peer, or family support can be engaged.

More than 12,000 people nationwide are now certified in Mental Health First Aid since the
training was introduced in the U.S. two years ago. The training has not only expanded people’s
knowledge of mental illnesses and their treatments, but has helped to reduce the stigma
associated with mental illness.

Perhaps if Mental Health First Aid becomes as widespread as First Aid or CPR, more people
may be able to step forward and intervene early to save lives and save communities. To
find a course in your community, visit