MHANJ Launches Mental Health First Aid Initiative

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey is launching a major initiative to bring Mental Health First Aid training to areas severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy including Atlantic, Monmouth and Ocean Counties. This initiative is made possible through grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Red Cross.

What is Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)? 

MHFA is an evidence-based, internationally recognized program. Similar to traditional First Aid and CPR, Mental Health First Aid is help provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a crisis until professional treatment is obtained or the crisis resolves.

Why Now?

The emotional impact of the storm remains a major hurdle for many survivors to overcome in their personal recovery from Sandy. What if a community member, police officer or neighbor was trained to notice and help someone who is emotionally upset? What if a qualified representative could recognize patterns of addictive behavior early-on and provide a connection to intervention services? Mental Health First Aid training can prepare representatives like these to turn everyday encounters into valuable opportunities,” stated Carolyn Beauchamp, President and CEO of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey.

How Does MHFA Work? “The training expands the eyes, ears and hands of support available from a trusted member of the community, someone who is out and about and afforded a chance to notice emotional reactions. As people who need help are identified, our trainees will follow the prescribed protocols and will also work cooperatively with specialists from the MHANJ’s New Jersey MentalHealthCares Helpline. This is a resource that provides information and referral to mental health and substance use disorder services across the state,” said Robert Kley, Vice President and COO of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey. New Jersey MentalHealthCares is funded by the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is funding training for individuals in Mental Health First Aid in Atlantic, Monmouth and Ocean Counties over the coming year. The American Red Cross is funding training for individuals in Atlantic and Ocean Counties. These grants make it possible for MHANJ to train up to 1,350 people at no cost to participants from organizations and individuals involved with the recovery from Sandy in the specified areas.

Creating Community Gatekeepers for Mental Health

In addition to supporting Sandy survivors, MHFA training will give recovery workers and community organizations knowledge that can be used in future disasters as well as in dealing with the public in their daily work and lives. This important educational effort goes a lot further than emergency intervention; it helps people understand the fear and misjudgment facing individuals and families who experience mental illnesses and addiction. It also helps rid communities of the associated stigma and move more and more people toward acceptance and recovery.

Mental Health First Aid originated in 2001 in Australia and was brought to the United States by the National Council for Behavioral Health, a non-profit organization. Over 150,000 individuals have been trained nation-wide.

More Information and How to Request a Training for Your Organization

The eight-hour Mental Health First Aid certification course may be offered on-site at an organization or facility over two four-hour sessions.To ask about scheduling a free MHFA training for your organization, staff or volunteers in Atlantic, Ocean or Monmouth Counties or for more information about Mental Health First Aid training in other areas of the state, please contact Laura Guida, MHFA Coordinator for the MHANJ, at or call 973-986-7375.

Important Links



Funding for Superstorm Sandy Recovery
Efforts through Generous Grants from:
American Red Cross Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Mental Health Association in New Jersey, Inc.

Address: 88 Pompton Avenue, Verona, NJ 07044

Telephone: 1.800.367.8850 Toll-Free

FAX: 973.857.1777

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