Mental Health First Aid Works to Educate Public and End Stigma

AltaPointe Health Systems wants to train you to spot the signs of a mental health crisis and teach you what to do. AltaPointe's next training session is May 29.

Mobile, Ala. (PRWEB) May 28, 2014

AltaPointe Health Systems is offering Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training courses that can teach you how to spot the signs of someone experiencing a mental health crisis and the steps to take to help. The public is invited to register at

"I think everyone should take a mental health first aid course," Mark Miele, AltaPointe MHFA trainer, said. "Mental health issues are very common, about 25% of people have a mental health diagnosis, so it is important to be able to learn ways to help others in our community. We spend time and effort to learn first aid skills, but statistically you are more likely to encounter someone with a mental illness than someone having a heart attack. Mental disorders are more common than heart disease and cancer combined."

Mental Health First Aid is a course that helps participants identify, understand and respond to the signs of a mental health crisis. An estimated 57.7 million people, or one in four adults, suffer from a mental illness in the United States. Many of them are either underdiagnosed or are not receiving appropriate treatment.

AltaPointe’s Mental Health First Aid Team has traveled the country training law enforcement, hospital staff, maritime workers and other groups large and small on how to spot the signs of a mental health crisis, how to de-escalate a crisis and what steps are needed to direct a person in crisis to the most pertinent organization for evaluation and care.

AltaPointe’s Mental Health First Aid trainers say the course is vital to making sure individuals with mental illnesses remain safe as well as others around them during a crisis.

"This course is designed to help people who may not be familiar with this field have a better understanding of mental illness, substance abuse, of crisis,” said Tamieka Martin, AltaPointe MHFA trainer. “Not only could it be your family member, it could be a neighbor, or a co-worker going through something. This course will help you not to be alarmed, so you will know how to help them.”

Mental Health First Aid training helps participants identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness such as panic attacks, paranoia and psychotic episodes. Participants learn how to address those problems through techniques such as using nonthreatening body language, speaking softly, asking the person’s name and listening closely. They also learn how to assess whether someone is suicidal and where to direct people for services.

Specifically, participants learn:

  • The potential risk factors and warning signs for a range of mental health problems, including: depression, anxiety/trauma, psychosis, eating disorders, substance use disorders, and self-injury.
  • An understanding of the prevalence of various mental health disorders in the U.S. and the need for reduced stigma in their communities
  • A 5-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources and knowledge to assess the situation, to select and implement appropriate interventions, and to help the individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional care.
  • The evidence-based professional, peer, social, and self-help resources available to help someone with a mental health problem.

Thorough research has proved the CPR-like program effective in improving trainees’ knowledge of mental disorders, reducing stigma and increasing the amount of help provided to others.

AltaPointe Health Systems has four certified Mental Health First Aid trainers. The next training session is May 29. For more information to schedule your MHFA training class please call (251) 450-4340.



A division of AltaPointe Health Systems, EastPointe’s clinical and medical professionals assess and evaluate adults in psychiatric crisis.

AltaPointe Health Systems' primary resource for behavioral healthcare services and information. (251) 450-2211