Mental Health First Aid Puts the Power of Prevention in the Hands of the Public

November 2nd, 2013

From the CEO
David Schimmel

With a dynamic organization like the David Lawrence Center, we are always evolving and looking for ways to improve. Many exciting program enhancements, new program developments and operational changes have taken place this summer – all designed to help more people in need, improve access, ensure continuity of care and increase treatment outcomes. But one new, community-wide initiative has me particularly excited and hopeful for the future, Mental Health First Aid.

Mental Health First Aid is a unique and powerful vehicle for improved mental health literacy. It trains participants to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness on a first-aid basis. This program is our best hope for identifying and intervening at the early signs of possible illness.

Family members, friends, neighbors, teachers and co-workers are the people most likely to notice when an individual’s behavior changes, but they usually don’t know what those changes mean or how to help. Mental Health First Aid puts that information into the hands of the public to prevent terrible headline making tragedies.

Mental Health First Aid teaches how to help someone developing signs and symptoms of mental illness or an emotional crisis. The program introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs, builds understanding of their impact, overviews common treatments and teaches how to safely de-escalate a crisis situation.

This program dispels old myths and negative stereotypes, challenges harmful misconceptions and provides a venue for our community’s determination to become empowered, take positive action and create meaningful positive change. As Southwest Florida’s leading provider of behavioral health solutions, several David Lawrence Center staff have already been certified in this nationally recognized program.

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