Press Release: NAMI DuPage Teaming-Up to Expand Mental Health First Aid Locally

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For General Release:

September 9, 2015

NAMI Metro Suburban and NAMI DuPage are partnering together to manage the acclaimed Mental Health First Aid program in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Over the past two years, Community Memorial Foundation (CMF) and its partners — the Rotary Club of La Grange, the Lyons and Proviso Township Mental Health Commissions, DuPage Community Foundation, and Illinois Children’s Health Foundation — have offered Mental Health First Aid as a key early intervention strategy to identify and respond to mental health issues in the western suburbs. In implementing the program, CMF recruited and educated more than 40 volunteer trainers for Mental Health First Aid. To date, nearly 900 local individuals have been certified in Mental Health First Aid.

Recently, in line with their plans to expand the program over time, the Foundation called for applications from local community agencies to assume the daily management responsibilities for this program.

Because CMF’s service area spans multiple counties, NAMI DuPage and NAMI Metro Suburban have partnered in building a strategy to expand upon the excellent foundations CMF has established for Mental Health First Aid. CMF recently selected this joint NAMI team to implement the program. Both NAMI affiliates are honored by this responsibility and thrilled to contribute to the well-being of communities by expanding the breadth and scope of the Mental Health First Aid program.

First developed in Australia, Mental Health First Aid in the United States is managed by the National Council for Behavioral Health of Washington D.C. The class is loosely modeled on conventional first aid classes that for decades have equipped members of the public with knowledge of basic emergency medical care. Mental Health First Aid is designed to help anyone who attends the 8 hours class effectively recognize the most common mental health problems, successfully de-escalate the affected individual, then connect him or her to resources and professional care. Multiple studies have provided evidence that the class effectively accomplishes these goals.

With more than 40 trainers between the adult and youth versions of the program, and separate management staff for both program coordination and outreach, the new NAMI-organized Mental Health First Aid program has plans to reach more than one thousand individuals in its first year.

The NAMI partnership team will promote and organize classes in Community Memorial Foundation’s service area, extending from the village of Downers Grove in the west to the village of Stickney in the east. To learn more about CMF and its geographical coverage area, visit www.cmfdn.org.

NAMI DuPage and NAMI Metro Suburban are affiliates of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and both provide support, education, and advocacy on behalf of individuals living with mental illness and their families. Mental Health First Aid joins exciting new services coming to both affiliates this year.

NAMI DuPage is led by Executive Director Angela Adkins, while Kimberly Knake heads NAMI Metro-Suburban. The program will be directed by NAMI DuPage’s Community Education Director, Scotty Turner. Please contact him at (630) 752-0066 ext. 219 or s.turner@namidupage.org for more information or to inquire about a training for your organization.