MHANJ’s Mental Health First Aid for New Jersey Initiative Wins National Award for Excellence in Mental Health First Aid Community Impact 

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey’s Mental Health First Aid for New Jersey leadership team members accepted the Excellence in Mental Health First Aid Community Impact Award from the National Council for Behavioral Health. Left to right: Jaime Angelini, Ruth Kaluski, Robert Kley, Lauren Luik, Laverne Williams.

Mental Health First Aid for New Jersey, an initiative led by the Mental Health Association in New Jersey and a coalition of 16 stakeholder organizations, has earned the Excellence in Mental Health First Aid Community Impact Award from the National Council for Behavioral Health, based in Washington, DC.  Presented at the National Council’s recent annual NATCON conference in Seattle, this prestigious award recognizes Mental Health First Aid for New Jersey’s commitment to the international Mental Health First Aid movement and the significant impact it has had on communities throughout the state in expanding the use of the evidence-based mental health literacy and skills-training curriculum.

“Mental Health First Aid is a key catalyst for stigma-reduction efforts, and over time, will help us move toward deeper integration of physical and mental health care. It is our hope that the Mental Health First Aid for New Jersey model we’ve pioneered will be adopted by other states around the country, further extending its impact,” stated Carolyn Beauchamp, President and CEO of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey.

“This award is the culmination of the great work of a broad coalition that has extended the reach of Mental Health First Aid in our state,” said Robert Kley, Vice President and COO of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey.  “We thank all of our stakeholders, especially the Mental Health Association’s affiliates and chapters covering 11 New Jersey counties, our behavioral health provider partners, and statewide community health and prevention organizations including the New Jersey Alliance of YMCAs and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.   We also acknowledge the National Council’s mentorship and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for its generosity.  And, we express our appreciation to all Mental Health First Aid instructors in the state, who are the true backbone of this effort.”

About Mental Health First Aid for New Jersey

By organizing previously disparate training efforts, the Mental Health First Aid for New Jersey collaboration has contributed to an increase in the number of people in New Jersey certified in Mental Health First Aid, from an estimated 4,500 in September 2015 when the initiative began, to nearly 13,000 at present, according to the National Council.  Among those trained have been educators and guidance counselors, first responders including firefighters and police officers, YMCA staff members, college students, librarians, Girl Scout troop leaders, nurses, veteran peer navigators, and people working in homeless and other social services, to name a few.

Mental Health First Aid is an innovative, 8-hour course that teaches people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health or substance abuse problem or experiencing a crisis. The program has been shown in numerous studies to reduce stigma and negative attitudes, improve understanding and increase the likelihood that help will be offered.   Of critical importance, the course builds mental health literacy, helping the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of common mental health and substance abuse problems.

Support for Mental Health First Aid for New Jersey was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

About the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Awards of Excellence

The twenty-two awards handed out during the 2017 NATCON conference are fondly dubbed, “The Oscars of Behavioral Health.”

“These honorees show us what excellence in behavioral health looks like,” said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. “They are finding ways to make a real difference in their communities.”

About the Mental Health Association in New Jersey

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey is a statewide non-profit organization that strives for children and adults to achieve victory over mental illness and substance use disorders through advocacy, education, training, and services. The Mental Health Association in New Jersey’s state headquarters is located in Springfield, New Jersey; additional locations include Atlantic, Hudson, Ocean and Union Counties with affiliates in Essex, Monmouth, Morris and Passaic Counties and Southwestern New Jersey. For more information about MHANJ, visit www.mhanj.org.

 

 

 

 

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