When someone is choking on a piece of food and can’t breathe, most of us would know to perform the Heimlich maneuver. And if we came across the victim of a gunshot wound, we’d instinctively try to stop the bleeding with a tourniquet.

But what if we came across someone suffering from a panic attack, or who was beginning to hear voices, or who was depressed and contemplating suicide? Most people don’t know what to do in these situations. It’s just as important to know how to help in a mental health crisis as it is in a physical health crisis.

That’s where Mental Health First Aid training comes in. Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour, evidence-based public education program designed to equip laypeople with the knowledge they need to know how best to respond in a mental health emergency and how to offer support for someone who is in emotional distress.

What do participants learn?

During our regularly scheduled Mental Health First Aid trainings, participants learn:

  • Risk factors and warning signs of mental health and substance use problems, and how to recognize them

  • Information on mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis, and substance use disorders

  • An action plan for helping someone who is developing a mental health problem or is in crisis

  • How to reach mental health professionals

  • Evidence-supported treatment and self-help strategies

Why Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is a peer-reviewed program, and has been shown to be successful in:

  • Helping participants grow their knowledge of signs, symptoms, and risk factors of mental illnesses and substance use problems

  • Helping participants identify professional and self-help resources for individuals with a mental illness or substance use problem

  • Helping participants to increase their confidence in and likelihood to help an individual in distress

  • Fostering increased mental wellness in participants.

Why Take Mental Health First Aid?

Who should participate in Mental Health First Aid?

These trainings are appropriate for all members of the community, and is an excellent resource and learning opportunity for teachers, police and other public safety officers, faith communities, social clubs, nursing homes, hospitals, students, college leadership, companies, and more.

We have trained more than 1,800 members of the community, and are the only organization in Maryland to have been awarded a SAMHSA grant to provide this training; the grant will cover training costs for individuals who live in, work or provide services to residents of Baltimore City, as well as Veteran’s, members of the military, their family members, and those that provide care or services to the Veteran and military community. It’s clear that the training we provide works: studies have shown that those who complete the training increase their knowledge of mental health diagnoses, are better able to identify professional and self-help resources appropriate for those in crisis, are more likely to help an individual in distress, and experience increased mental wellness themselves.

Our instructors are certified in Mental Health First Aid; Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety; Mental Health First Aid for Military Members, Veterans, and their Families; and Mental Health First Aid for Older Adults. 

Currently, the core Adult Mental Health First Aid program is available virtually! We hope to offer community trainings in the near future; if you are interested, please contact us so we can create a list. If you have a group or organization who would like to be trained in Mental Health First Aid, we would be happy to talk with you and provide all of the details.

Learn more about our Mental Health First Aid programs:

Contact Us

To learn more about Mental Health First Aid or to arrange an on-site training, please contact Julie Cook at Julie.Cook@sheppardpratt.org.