Thursday, January 24, 2013

Blumenthal on 'Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013'

In a press release issued Thursday, the office of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., announced that  a "bipartisan coalition" of senators led by Sens. Mark Begich, D-AK, Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, and Blumenthal introduced legislation "to expand mental health first aid training and increase the effectiveness of mental health care across America."
The bill is an expanded version of the bill introduced last year by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-AK, according to the release..

Sens. Begich, Ayotte, Blumenthal, Jack Reed, D-RI,  Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, Michael Bennet, D-CO, Roy Blunt, R-MO, and Marco Rubio, R-FL, are original co-sponsors of the Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013, the release said.
The act, "provides funding for training programs to help the public identify, understand, and address crisis situations safely. The bill also calls for protocols for initiating timely referrals to mental health services available in communities," the release said. 

“Gunmen responsible for mass shootings highlight how mental illness can cause carnage and killing,” Blumenthal said, also in the statement. “We need to identify and treat people suffering from mental illness before they damage or destroy other lives. By providing resources to train our school officials, law enforcement professionals, and emergency personnel how to recognize and refer people with mental health issues, the Mental Health First Aid Act will increase the health and safety of our communities.” 

The bill will provide grants for mental health first aid training programs for groups of individuals such as teachers, first responders, police officers, school and college administrators, veterans, and nurses. The bill also outlines a particular focus on training in rural areas," the statement said..

Specifically, the bill would (all of the following as contained in the statement and is unedited here: 
  • Highlight available mental health resources in local communities, including Community Mental Health Centers, emergency psychiatric facilities, hospital emergency rooms and other programs offering psychiatric crisis beds;
  • Teach the warning signs and risk factors for schizophrenia, major clinical depression, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, trauma, and other common mental disorders;
  • Teach crisis de-escalation techniques; and
  • Provide trainees with a five-step action plan to help individuals in psychiatric crisis connect to professional mental health care.
The bill is endorsed by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA, and the Center for Human Development at the University of Alaska Anchorage, the statement said.

The statement also noted that
The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ), who was former Rep. Gabby Giffords’s former district director and was wounded two years ago.

Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed.

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Hello I am from NJ and I just recently took the Mental Health First Aid Course and i have been certified, as it was the first certification course offered in my area. I am so glad that it has created an awareness to the community. In fact, I am now looking for classes to become an Instructor for this course. It is imperative for society to help become the eyes and ears for those who are suffering from a potential life threatening mental health crisis in oreder to prevent dire consequences that we have seen occur over the last few years. The longer individuals suffering from Mental health disorders without treatment, the more society will be at risk for potential harm and injury. It's a sad reality when even the individual him/herself is suffering and not even aware of what his/her brain is capapble of doing.. This is a national public health threat to our children and adults of society, and I believe everyone should be educated...

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