Washington, DC – The fiscal year 2014 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) budget will include $15 million in new funding for a nationwide demonstration program designed to provide Mental Health First Aid training to police officers, first responders, primary care professionals, social workers, and college and university staff, among others, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council).
“Mental Health First Aid is a low-cost but high-impact way to make a real difference,” said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council. Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour training where people learn how to recognize when someone may be experiencing a mental illness, how to provide initial help, and where to refer them for care and support.
“The new funding from SAMHSA will ensure that thousands of professionals will have access to this simple but highly effective training,” Rosenberg added.
In his report, Now Is The Time: The President’s Plan to Protect our Children and our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence, President Obama called for Mental Health First Aid training to help teachers and staff recognize the signs of mental health concerns in young people and refer them to appropriate care.
The SAMHSA funding is part of a larger effort to increase funding for mental health services. The Obama Administration announced in December 2013 that it would make $100 million in mental health funding available to expand service delivery in community health settings and rural areas. The National Council wants to thank Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), Sen Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ), and Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), for introducing the Mental Health First Aid Act in the House and Senate (S. 153/HR 274) and working so hard on behalf of this critical early intervention and prevention initiative; the new Mental Health First Aid appropriation flows entirely from their tireless leadership. In addition, Congress is considering the bi-partisan Excellence in Mental Health Act, which would improve the quality of mental health care and expand access to mental health treatment for hundreds of thousands of people served by community mental health centers.
For more information on Mental Health First Aid, visit staging.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.
To arrange media interviews with Linda Rosenberg of the National Council for Behavioral Health, please contact: Meena Dayak at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 202-684-3728.
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