A Statement by Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health
As First Lady Michelle Obama said today, “The National Council for Behavioral Health will be training three million people in Mental Health First Aid. I went through some of this training a few weeks ago…and I saw just how useful it is. It really gives you the skills you need to identify — and ultimately help — someone in need. Because you never know when these kinds of skills might be useful.”
We have to change the conversation around mental health. Addressing an audience of government, business and nonprofit leaders today, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke about how we must flip the script in how we support and care for people with mental health and substance use needs, and exemplified Mental Health First Aid as a strategy to do just that.
Mental Health First Aid introduces people to risk factors and warning signs of mental health and substance use problems, and teaches them a five-step action plan to help people get the care they need in their community.
This pioneering program gives people a tangible way to help others. It recognizes the resilience and strength of all of us fosters understanding, compassion and engagement in the community. The National Council is grateful to our partners in making Mental Health First Aid such a valuable national program — the Missouri Department of Mental Health and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The First Lady couldn’t be more correct: we have to break the silence for those who suffer and engage people to talk about mental health and learn how to help each other.
Congress’ strong bipartisan support of the Mental Health First Aid Act is demonstrative that we are moving in the right direction—and with their support of the $19 million for Mental Health First Aid in the proposed FY16 budget we can take even greater strides to flip the script on silence and suffering.
The National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s community mental health and addictions treatment organizations. Together with 2,300 member organizations, it serves more than eight million adults and children living with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. The organization is committed to ensuring all Americans have access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery and full participation in community life.
The National Council, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health pioneered Mental Health First Aid in the U.S. and have trained more than 300,000 individuals to connect youth and adults in need to mental health and addictions care in their communities. The course uses role-play and simulation to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect persons to professional, peer and social supports as well as self-help resources. Find out more at staging.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.