Mental Health First Aid Helping Communities Respond to Mental Health and Substance Use Crises


The National Council for Community Behavioral Health Care has spearheaded the adoption of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) an innovative public education model that is addressing the stigma surrounding mental illness, which prevents people from seeking treatment and assists those that want help but are not sure where to turn.
Cardinal Innovations Healthcare has trainers certified in adult  and youth mental health first aid. Cardinal Innovations also has trainers who are certified to train the Spanish version of the adult mental health first aid, as well as law enforcement, corrections and public safety, and veterans, service members and families. MHFA is an evidence-based, in-person training program with the proven ability to teach individuals how to recognize and respond to the warning signs of mental and substance use disorders and link people with appropriate treatment. MHFA increases the understanding that mental illnesses are real, common and treatable.
• It is more likely that one will come in contact with someone having an emotional or mental crisis than someone having a heart attack, or choking on a piece of food in a restaurant.
• An estimated 8.7 million American adults had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year – among them 2.5 million made suicide plans and 1.1 million attempted suicide.
• Only about four in 10 people experiencing a mental illness in 2011 (39.2 percent) received mental health services during that period. If left unacknowledged and untreated, mental illnesses can result in disability, substance use, suicide, lost productivity and family discord.
• According to the World Health Organization, mental illness accounts for more disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.
• The economic impact of mental illness in the United States is substantial—about $300 billion
• Mental illness often co-exists with other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes
and obesity. Treating the mental illness can reduce the effects of these additional disorders. 
MHFA is offered in the form of an interactive eight-hour course that presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders in the U.S., introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact and gives an overview of common treatments. Those who take the eight-hour course to certify as Mental Health First Aiders learn a five-step action plan encompassing the skills, resou​rces and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional, peer, social and self-help care.
“Mental Health First Aid is an excellent course that I would highly recommend to other professionals and lay people who work/deal with populations who are particularly vulnerable to mental illness,
other issues that may cause them emotional distress, substance use, etc.,” said one MHFA class attendee.
For more information about Mental Health First Aid, visit