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Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid is an evidence based public education program that can help individuals across the community understand mental illnesses, support timely intervention and save lives.

Why Mental Health First Aid?

One in five Americans has a mental illness or substance use disorder, yet many are reluctant to seek help or simply don’t know where to turn for care. Recognizing mental health and substance use challenges can be difficult, which is why it’s so important for everyone to understand the warning signs and risk factors. Even when friends and family of someone who may be developing a mental illness recognize a sign or symptom, they may not know how to intervene or direct the person to proper treatment. All too often, those in need of mental health services do not get help until it is too late.

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid teaches how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The course introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health concerns, builds understanding of their impact and provides an overview of common treatments. Through role-playing and simulations, it demonstrates how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions; provide initial help; and connect people to professional, peer and social supports as well as self-help resources.

Adult Mental Health First Aid encourages early detection and intervention by teaching participants about the signs and symptoms of specific illnesses like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and addictions. The program offers concrete tools and answers key questions like “What can I do?” and “Where can someone find help?” Participants are introduced to local mental health resources, national organizations, support groups and online tools for mental health and addiction treatment and support.

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach neighbors, teachers, parents, peers, and caring citizens how to help a youth or teen who is experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge or is in crisis. The course discusses mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and provides guidance through the ALGEE action plan for both crisis and non-crisis situations.

Teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) is delivered to teens in either grades 10, 11 or 12. It teaches students a peer to peer approach of identifying issues and how to aid a fellow teen. The training is provided over several different sessions and takes place at the high school. All students of the identified grade level are trained in the material.

Mental Health First Aid USA is operated by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

Bridgeway Inc. has staff trained as Mental Health First Aid Instructors which enables us to provide this training in our communities. A grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health makes it possible to offer this training free of charge.

Bridgeway provides the following versions of MHFA: Adult, Youth, Teen, Higher Education, Fire/Ems and Veterans.

To request more information about our Mental Health First Aid education program, please use the form below.