Mental Health First Aid

The root of most stigmas is generally fear. The stigma surrounding mental illnesses in America is no different: fear of not understanding the problem, fear of doing or saying the "wrong" thing, and fear of not knowing what to do when someone needs help.

Mental Health First Aid is a groundbreaking public education program that helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Mental Health First Aid USA is managed, operated, and disseminated by three national authorities the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health. In Iowa the Division of Mental Health and Disability Services is coordinating Mental Health First Aid, and Iowa currently has 90 instructors statewide.

Mental Health First Aid is offered in the form of an interactive 8-hour course that presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders in the U.S. and introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments. Those who take the 8-hour course to certify as Mental Health First Aiders learn a 5-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care.

The 8-hour Mental Health First Aid USA course has benefited a variety of audiences and key professions, including: primary care professionals, employers and business leaders, faith communities, school personnel and educators, state police and corrections officers, nursing home staff, mental health authorities, state policymakers, volunteers, young people, families and the general public. See how you can get involved - find a 8-hour Mental Health First Aid course near you.

If you are interested in learning more about MHFA, would like to become certified or learn how your agency can participate in training, please contact:

Karen Hyatt, Program Planner 3
Iowa Department of Human Services
Division of Mental Health and Disability Services
Bureau of Community Services & Planning
1305 E. Walnut Street, 5th Floor SE 
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0114 
Phone: 515-281-3128
Fax: 515-242-6036
Email: khyatt@dhs.state.ia.us

or

Laura Larkin, Executive Officer 2
Iowa Department of Human Services
Division of Mental Health and Disability Services
Bureau of Community Services & Planning
1305 E. Walnut Street, 5th Floor SE 
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0114 
Phone: 515-242-5880
Fax: 515-242-6036
Email: llarkin@dhs.state.ia.us

MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID RESOURCES

Bipolar Disorder - NIMH

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. There is good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

Comorbidity - Addiction and Other Mental Health Disorders

Comorbidity is a topic that people frequently ask about. It is also a topic about which there is insufficient information, and so it remains a research priority for NIDA. This Research Report provides information on the state of the science in this area.

Depression - NIMH

When a person has depression, it interferes with his or her daily life and routine, such as going to work or school, taking care of children, and relationships with family and friends. Depression causes pain for the person who has it and for those who care about him or her. Depression can be very different in different people or in the same person over time. It is a common but serious illness. Treatment can help those with even the most severe depression get better.

Dissecting the Self-Cutting Phenomenon

Cutting and carving by adolescents is on the rise and perplexes providers as to how to handle the results. Many have wanted to know whether this equates to a suicidal attempt.

Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is marked by extremes. It is present when a person experiences severe disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme reduction of food intake or extreme overeating or feelings of extreme distress or concern about body image.

Genetics of Addiction

Why do some people become addicted, while others do not? Studies of identical twins indicate that as much as half of an individual's risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs depends on his or her genes. Pinning down the biological basis for this risk is an important avenue of research for scientists trying to solve the problem of drug abuse.

Major Depressive Episodes and Treatment

Recent research indicates that an estimated 25 to 30 percent of the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reported symptoms of a mental disorder or cognitive condition. Untreated mental health problems can result in long-term negative consequences for the affected individuals, their families, their communities, and our Nation as a whole.

Medications - NIMH

This booklet is designed to help mental health patients and their families understand how and why medications can be used as part of the treatment of mental health problems.

Men and Depression Fact Sheet

Depression is a serious but treatable medical condition that can strike anyone regardless of age, ethnic background, socioeconomic status, or gender. However, depression may go unrecognized by those who have it, their families and friends, and even their physicians. Men, in particular, may be unlikely to admit to depressive symptoms and seek help. But depression in men is not uncommon in the United States every year, depressive illnesses affect an estimated seven percent of men (more than six million men).

Mental Health First Aid - An International Program

To describe the development of the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program in Australia, its roll-out in other countries and evaluation studies which have been carried out.

Mental Health First Aid Training

The prevalence of mental disorders is so high that members of the public will frequently have contact with someone experiencing a disorder. How they respond to that person may affect help-seeking and outcome of the disorder. However, community surveys show that many members of the public lack knowledge and skills in this area. To overcome this lack, a mental health first aid training course has been developed in Australia and widely disseminated. It has also been adapted for different national and cultural groups. A number of trials have been carried out to evaluate the course, showing improvements in recognition of mental disorders, concordance with professionals about treatments, confidence in providing first aid, actual help provided to others, and reduction in stigmatizing attitudes. The course is continually being extended and improved. Work is currently underway to develop a version for supporters of adolescents, and to develop standards for first aid, both for developing disorders and in crisis situations.

Mental Health First Aid Training Review

Review of three published trials: one uncontrolled with members of the public in a city, one randomized controlled efficacy trial in a workplace setting and one cluster randomized effectiveness trial with the public in a rural area.

Pro-Ana, Pro-Mia Websites

Adults who work with teens must be aware of what is available to teens on the web. This issue deals with very troubling sites that encourages teens to practice and be proud of disordered eating.

PTSD Brochure

Its natural to be afraid when you're in danger. Its natural to be upset when something bad happens to you or someone you know. But if you feel afraid and upset weeks or months later, its time to talk with your doctor. You might have post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD Fact Sheet

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that some people develop after seeing or living through an event that caused or threatened serious harm or death. Symptoms include flashbacks, bad dreams, emotional numbness, intense guilt or worry, angry outbursts, feeling on edge, and avoiding thoughts and situations that are reminders of the trauma.

Schizophrenia - NIMH

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that has been recognized throughout recorded history. It affects about 1 percent of Americans.

Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction

Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences to the individual who is addicted and to those around them. Drug addiction is a brain disease because the abuse of drugs leads to changes in the structure and function of the brain.

When Fear Overwhelms - Panic Disorder

People with anxiety disorders feel extremely fearful and unsure. Most people feel anxious about something for a short time now and again, but people with anxiety disorders feel this way most of the time. Their fears and worries make it hard for them to do everyday tasks. About 18% of American adults have anxiety disorders. Children also may have them.

When Unwanted Thoughts Take Over - NIMH

This booklet is about Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

When Worry Gets Out of Control - NIMH

This booklet is about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Womens Mental Health

This booklet offers tips to help women protect their mental health.