White House Mental Health Conference Includes Discussion of Mental Health First Aid

Jun 03, 2013, 13:13 ET from National Council for Behavioral Health

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following quote can be attributed to Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health and an attendee at this morning's White House Mental Health Conference:

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I applaud the White House for launching a national dialogue on mental health - one of the most significant issues of our day.  Across the country, people are recognizing the importance of early identification and intervention for mental illness.  Much of that recent awareness has come about because of terrible tragedies. But out of these tragedies, we are creating opportunities to make a difference. 

Several innovative approaches were discussed today, including Mental Health First Aid, which gives people valuable tools to help family, friends and co-workers dealing with mental health issues get the help they need.  Mental Health First Aid also provides communities with a tangible way to respond to feelings of helplessness in the wake of a tragedy.  It can help shape community discussions about mental illness, public safety, stigma, and how we care for the most vulnerable among us. 

This essential dialogue must continue, and ultimately, it must result in action – including increased resources for mental health services, which have been decimated by years of budget cuts.  I look forward to working with the White House and other partners to ensure that we make a meaningful national commitment to community mental health services.

About Mental Health First Aid: Similar to CPR, Mental Health First Aid trains participants to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness on a "first aid" basis.

President Obama's executive order to reduce gun violence, issued in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, highlighted Mental Health First Aid, calling for funding to train each of the nearly 14,000 school districts in the U.S. and provide training to more than half a million teachers and school staff.

The Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013 (S. 153 and H.R. 274) would authorize $20 million in grants to train emergency services personnel, police officers, teachers/school administrators, faith community leaders, primary care professionals, and students in MHFA.

The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Mark Begich (D-AK) with 13 bipartisan co-sponsors including Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), with a House companion bill introduced by Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ) with 25 bi-partisan co-sponsors.

S. 153 was included in the mental health legislation approved by the Senate HELP Committee (S. 689) and later overwhelmingly supported by the full Senate (95-2) as part of the Manchin-Toomey gun package (S. 649), which ultimately was withdrawn.

To arrange media interviews with Linda Rosenberg of the National Council for Behavioral Health, please contact: Kirk Monroe at kmonroe@prismpublicaffairs.com or via phone at 202-207-3646

The National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America's community mental health and addictions treatment organizations. Together with our 2,000 member organizations, we serve our nation's most vulnerable citizens — the more than 8 million adults and children living with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. We are 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 pioneered Mental Health First Aid in the U.S. and has trained nearly 100,000 individuals to connect youth and adults in need to mental health and addictions care in their communities. Learn more at www.TheNationalCouncil.org.

Contact: Kirk Monroe 202-207-3646
Meena Dayak 301-602-8474

SOURCE National Council for Behavioral Health