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Mental Health First Aid


Just like CPR, we want everyone to take the Mental Health First Aid training. It’s an education program designed to provide our community with the skills needed to recognize mental health challenges and to safely respond to an individual in crisis.

  • Introduces risk factors and warning signs of mental health challenges
  • Builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and
  • Teaches how to help someone who is in crisis or experiencing a behavioral health challenge.

Through role-playing and simulations, participants will learn how to help someone in a mental health crisis and how to connect that person to community resources.

RACSB certified instructors teach four versions of the program throughout our community:

  • Mental Health First Aid (Adult)
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid (for adults who live or work with adolescents)
  • Mental Health First Aid for Higher Education
  • Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety (for police and others who work in public safety roles)

The training courses are available to local organizations and open to members of the public.

The 8-hour curriculum is provided over one or two days. There is a registration fee of $25 which includes a workbook and lunch the first day of the training. Training courses are limited to 25 participants and are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Adult Mental Health First Aid – An 8-hour training where participants provided the skills necessary to help facilitate successful encounters with an individual in crisis. Training participants are also better able to help connect the individual experiencing a mental health challenge with local resources like counseling or support groups.

The course covers common risk factors and warning signs of specific illnesses, including anxiety; depression; substance use; bipolar disorder; and schizophrenia.

This course is designed for any adult and is beneficial for family members and caregivers, hiring managers, employers, or those who want to help make a difference in their community.

Youth Mental Health First Aid – An 8-hour training that introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents. The course teaches participants the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents, including anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders, ADHD, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance use disorder.

Participants do not learn to diagnose, nor how to provide any therapy or counseling – rather, participants learn to support a youth developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis by applying a core five-step action plan.

The course is designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents  and transition-age youth, ages 12-18 (teachers, school staff, coaches, youth group leaders, parents, etc.).

Mental Health First Aid for Higher Education – An 8-hour training designed with the unique culture found on college and university campuses. Training students, faculty and others in higher education settings how to recognize the symptoms of emerging mental illnesses or to assist young adults in a mental health crisis can help lessen the severity and impact of mental illnesses.

The training includes a discussion of the specific stress and risk factors faced by higher education population as well as a review of available mental health resources found on campus and through community partnerships.

Mental Health First Aid for Higher Education is ideal for anyone who regularly interacts with students, both on and off campus, including: students; faculty; Resident Advisors; campus law enforcement; academic advisors; counselors; financial aid staff; coaches and athletic personnel; administrators; event staff; and librarians.

Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety – An 8-hour course designed for police, first responders, corrections officers, and other public safety audiences. This training provides officers with more options to help deescalate incidents and better understand mental illnesses so they can respond to mental health related calls appropriately without compromising safety.

Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety is a good compliment to Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training and serves as an introduction for new officers. This training is appropriate for law enforcement, corrections officers, first responders, and dispatch staff.

Mental Health First Aid is included on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

Mental Health First Aid originated in 2001 in Australia under the direction of founders Betty Kitchener and Tony Jorm. To date, it has been replicated in twenty other countries worldwide, including Hong Kong, Scotland, England, Canada, Finland, and Singapore. Mental Health First Aid USA is coordinated by the National Council for Behavioral Health, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health. To learn more, please visit www.MentalHealthFirstAid.org.

Lock and Talk Virginia

Funded by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the Community Services Boards in Health Planning Region 1 have partnered to form Lock and Talk Virginia. Goals of the program are to (1) restrict access to firearms and poisons during a mental health crisis and (2) educate members of the public how to recognize and respond to the warning signs of suicide.

Public awareness efforts have included a number of high-profile television appearances, billboards, and posters displayed in gun shops, firing ranges, and other locations using the slogan “Someone in Crisis? Lock Meds. Lock Guns. Talk Safety.” Lock and Talk Virginia also sponsors gatekeeper trainings that stress the importance of restricting access to lethal means among people experiencing a mental health crisis. To learn more, please visit: www.lockandtalk.org.


Suicide Alertness for community members.  safeTALK is 3 ½- hour training program that prepares helpers to identify persons experiencing thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first–aid resources.  Most people with thoughts of suicide, either directly or indirectly, invite help to stay safe.  Alert helpers know how to identify and work with these opportunities to help protect life. Powerful videos illustrate both non-alert and alert responses.  Discussion and practice stimulate learning.  Minimum age of participants: 15 years.

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