MHA Joins Leading Nonprofits to Condemn Border Atrocities

“Today, I joined nonprofit colleagues from around the nation in condemning the horrifying actions being taken by our government to separate young children from their parents at our southern border. As a mental health advocate, I recognize that these children and families were already subjected to major trauma when they arrived at our border. They often experienced violence we can only imagine in their towns and villages. They were subjected to the daily trauma of making their way north along unsafe roads and pathways to reach the safety of our border. Now, we are subjecting them to another horror. We are tearing families apart when they arrive.

“Credible reports have surfaced that the conditions to which we are subjecting these children and families are both cruel and inhumane. The few videos we have seen support this conclusion. Some administration officials have made false claims that they have been forced to treat children this way. This is dishonest. It distorts reality. This cruelty has a profound effect on the mental health of children and their families. Repetitive trauma does short- and long-term damage.

“Elected officials cannot claim to be sympathetic to the mental health needs of any population if they neither take immediate action to correct this situation, nor acknowledge the harm being done to thousands of children. All of us who signed this statement have worked closely with – and have admiration for – many members of both parties. Both parties need to step up – now – and fight for the principles on which our country was reaffirmed by President Lincoln – that we act with malice toward none and charity toward all.”

The text of the full coalition statement.

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MHAPC Launches Mental Health First Aid Initiative

The Mental Health Association in Passaic County is launching a major initiative to bring Mental Health First Aid training to Passaic County as part of the countywide End The Stigma Campaign.  “We are thrilled to bring Mental Health First Aid to our community,” said Joanne Green, Executive Director, Mental Health Association in Passaic County.  “This important educational effort goes a lot further than emergency intervention; it really helps people understand the shroud of fear and misjudgment facing individuals and families who experience mental illnesses and addiction.  It will help rid this community of the associated stigma and move more and more people toward recovery.”

 PrintWhat is Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)? 

MHFA is an evidence-based, internationally recognized program. Similar to traditional First Aid and CPR, Mental Health First Aid is help provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a crisis until professional treatment is obtained or the crisis resolves.

Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental illnesses, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common supports. This 8-hour course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to offer initial help in a mental health crisis and connect persons to the appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care. The program also teaches the common risk factors and warning signs of specific types of illnesses, like anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.

Mental Health First Aid is included on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).


Mental Health First Aid teaches participants a five-step action plan, ALGEE, to support someone developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis:

Assess for risk of suicide or harm

Listen nonjudgmentally

Give reassurance and information

Encourage appropriate professional help

Encourage self-help and other support strategies

Like CPR, Mental Health First Aid prepares participants to interact with a person in crisis and connect the person with help. First Aiders do not take on the role of professionals — they do not diagnose or provide any counseling or therapy. Instead, the program offers concrete tools and answers key questions, like “what do I do?” and “where can someone find help?” Certified Mental Health First Aid instructors provide a list of community healthcare providers and national resources, support groups, and online tools for mental health and addictions treatment and support. All trainees receive a program manual to compliment the course material.


Mental Health First Aid was introduced in the U.S. in 2008 and, to date, more than 100,000 people from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have taken the course. The course is offered to a variety of audiences, including hospital staff, employers and business leaders, faith communities, and law enforcement . In 2012, a Spanish adaptation of the course was released.

In 2012, Youth Mental Health First Aid was introduced to prepare trainees to help youth ages 12-18 that may be developing or experiencing a mental health challenge. The youth course is most appropriate for adults who regularly interact with youth, such as teachers or coaches, but may also be appropriate for youth who are 16 years and older.

More Information and How to Request a Training for Your Organization

The eight-hour Mental Health First Aid certification course may be offered on-site at an organization or facility over two four-hour sessions. To ask about scheduling a MHFA training for your organization, staff or volunteers in Passaic County or for more information about Mental Health First Aid training please contact Rebekah Leon, MHFA Coordinator for the MHAPC, at: rleon or call 973-478-4444Ext:16

Important Links

Facts about Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid — USA

Mental Health First Aid Added to Federal Registry of Evidence-based Programs (Press Release)

New Jersey MentalHealthCares Helpline

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey