Reps. Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Ron Barber (AZ-02), and Lynn Jenkins (KS-02) hosted a Mental Health First Aid training for Members of Congress and their staff as part of May Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental Health First Aid is a groundbreaking public education program that helps identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.
"We must continue reducing the stigma through the education of our colleagues, staff, and families," Napolitano said. "Attitudes toward mental health are changing, but we still have a long way to go to ensure it receives the same recognition and appropriate funding as any other health issue. Mental health is critical for our economy, the welfare of our soldiers and family members, and the future of our country."
"Mental Health First Aid training has been an important way of helping people identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses," said Barber. "This training has been successful in Tucson and I look forward to giving my colleagues a small preview of how effective it can be."
"Early-detection training programs, like Mental Health First Aid training, are critical to removing the stigma of mental health treatment, ensuring all families have access to mental health resources, and preventing individuals from harming themselves or others," said Jenkins. "We have folks in Kansas doing great work on mental health issues, and it is important that we share these educational tools with Members of Congress and their staff so they can take them back to their districts."
Today's training was a preview to the training included in Barber's legislation, H.R. 274, the Mental Health First Aid Act, of which Napolitano and Jenkins are cosponsors. Bryan Gibb, Director of Public Education at the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, explained how to recognize the most common mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and psychosis, and how to direct those that need help to care if those issues are detected. The purpose of the training was to provide educational resource tools to help create a better understanding and awareness of mental health.