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National Council, veterans, mental health leaders launch new program

April 24, 2014
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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The National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council), along with leaders from veterans service organizations and fellow mental health advocates, today launched a new training program – Mental Health First Aid for Veterans – that offers participants a simple, proven combination of information and techniques to recognize and respond to the warning signs of mental illness and addiction.

The new program was developed by and for service members. An estimated 30 percent of active duty and reserve military personnel who deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have mental health conditions requiring treatment – about 730,000 men and women – with many experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression.

“Given the number of veterans living with untreated mental health conditions, Mental Health First Aid for Veterans is needed now more than ever,” said National Council President and CEO Linda Rosenberg. “This pioneering program gives people a tangible way to help those who have done so much for us.  It recognizes the resilience and strength of our veteran community and fosters understanding, compassion and engagement among veterans and service members and within their larger community.”

Mental Health First Aid for Veterans builds on the original Mental Health First Aid program, a training program for educators, community leaders, law enforcement and public safety officials that has trained nearly 200,000 Americans and is listed on the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices. Mental Health First Aid for Veterans incorporates the unique experiences and needs of the military, veteran, and family population.

“I am so pleased that Mental Health First Aid has launched a program specifically intended for members of the military, veterans, and their families,” said Patrick Kennedy, co-founder of One Mind for Research and a former member of Congress. “This program has the power to change our attitudes and ensure that mental illnesses are perceived and treated as issues of chemistry, not issues of character. The numbers show such a discrepancy between those who need treatment and those who receive it, and Mental Health First Aid for Veterans will help us meet those real needs.”

Mental Health First Aid for Veterans trainings will begin in Dubuque, Iowa, on April 30; Brookfield, Wis., on May 2; and Dallas, Texas, on May 16, with additional courses to be added across the country. 

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