Mental Health First Aid: “CPR” for Wellness Support 

Pictured: The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI)-Eastside provides a MHFA training to Eastside Human Service Agencies in Redmond.

Have you ever run into a stranger on the street that looked like they may be in crisis? Or do you know a family member or friend who struggles with mental health or substance use conditions? Do you wish you knew more about how to help? The Department of Community and Human Services Behavioral Health and Recovery Division (BHRD) is implementing a series of “Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Trainings,” a nationally recognized public education campaign to decrease the stigma associated with having a behavioral health condition, such as a mental health and/or substance use condition. 

The goal is to increase the public’s awareness, support, and most of all, acceptance of individuals with mental health and substance use conditions, just as other individuals with any other chronic illness such as cancer or diabetes are supported. The Mental Health First Aid website explains that “Just as CPR helps you assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid helps you assist someone experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis.

Mental Health First Aid teaches about recovery and resiliency – the belief that individuals experiencing these challenges can and do get better, and use their strengths to stay well.” 

It goes on to share that in the Mental Health First Aid course, individuals learn about risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help. The training covers topics including depression and mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, psychosis, and substance use disorders.  

BHRD has made these trainings available to other King County departments and divisions, community stakeholders such as community based organizations, faith based organizations, schools and members of the public. Individuals or groups can sign up to receive free, eight hour MHFA trainings at external training sites in the community. There is both a MHFA training focusing on adults and a separate training focusing on children, which provides adult attendees with information on children and mental health and substance use. There is also an option for individuals to become trainers themselves by participating in a three day training and committing to provide the MHFA training at least three times a year in the community. These public education trainings are free and open to everyone. Sign up for a training here. 

To learn more about MHFA trainings and how you can help be a part of the awareness, support and acceptance of individuals with behavioral health disabilities, please visit the MHFA website at www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.