Mental Health First Aid for Veterans Launches

screaming marine

The National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council) recently launched a new training program, Mental Health First Aid for Veterans, that aims to teach health care professionals, educators, first responders, and community workers to recognize and respond to the signs of mental illness.

Mental Health First Aid for Veterans was developed by and for service members. An estimated 30 percent of active duty and reserve military personnel who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have mental health conditions requiring treatment, many experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression. The National Council estimates that fewer than 50 percent of veterans who need mental health care actually seek and receive treatment.

Mental Health First Aid for Veterans builds on the original Mental Health First Aid program, a live training program like regular First Aid or CPR, designed to give people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The course demonstrates how to recognize and respond to the warning signs of specific illnesses.

Key components specific to Mental Health First Aid for Veterans include:

  • A discussion of military culture and its relevance to the topic of mental health
  • A discussion of the risk factors many service members and their families face, including trauma, stress, and separation
  • A review of common mental health resources for service members, veterans and their families

Theresa Buchanan, our Association’s Youth Initiatives Director, participated on a panel of mental health advocates and veterans service organizations at the launch event: “We know all too well that the consequences of untreated mental illness are dire with often devastating impacts for our veterans, their families and community. But knowing how to seek that help – where to begin – can be an enormous obstacle for many. That’s why programs like Mental Health First Aid are so important. With treatment, families can get better and our nation is stronger.”

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