NH News
12:38 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Statewide Mental Health First Aid Training Program Kicks Off

Sen. Kelly Ayotte speaks during the kickoff event for New Hampshire's mental health first aid training program.
Credit NHPR / Michael Brindley

Senator Kelly Ayotte and Representative Ann McLane Kuster were in Manchester on Monday to help kick off New Hampshire’s new mental health first aid program.

Once this week’s training is complete, the 30 participants will be certified as mental health first aid instructors.

Suellen Griffin is Executive Director of West Center Behavioral Health in Lebanon.

She says those taking part – including two people from her center – come from all corners of the state and will be responsible for sharing what they learned with residents in communities.

“We plan to offer the mental health first aid course to thousands of New Hampshire citizens in all walks of life. From bus drivers, to school coaches, to health care providers.”

Participants learn how to recognize the symptoms of mental illness and addiction disorders, de-escalate crisis situations, and connect people with treatment programs.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas told those taking part that completing this week’s training is only the first step.

“Each participant, all of you, who will become a trainer must provide three trainings within a year to others to remain certified. It will then be a collaborative effort on the part of these trainers to train mental health first aid statewide.”

Organizers say it’s the first time such a program has been offered on a statewide level.

The New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services partnered to offer the training.