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Philadelphia To Begin Offering Mental Health First Aid Training

By David Madden

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - You've heard about CPR classes to help someone having a heart attack. But, how do you help someone who may be having a mental health crisis right in front of you? The City of Philadelphia is looking to train thousands of people to provide what is, in effect, first aid for the mind.

This will roll out in steps. Experts will be training people over the next few months, who will then conduct 12-hour courses for the general public, complete with a certification test.

Goals of the Mental Health First Aid program are modest at first: 1,500 certifications this year, but over the next decade, Behavioral Health Commissioner Dr. Arthur Evans hopes 10% of the populace will be able to help out. And that's all that's really expected.

"This is to help people be able to identify and to refer to professional help," Evans says. "It's not for them to necessarily intervene themselves."

The program is set up through the National Council for Community Behavioral Health Care based in DC. "More likely, Mental Health First Aid is something that you'd use with a family member, co-worker, a neighbor," says Bryan Gibb, who is responsible for spreading the word.

Training includes what to look for, how to handle a situation and (perhaps most importantly) when to know when you might be in over your head and need to call in a professional. The city hopes to begin public classes in June.

Click here for information from the city on its' program, or you can call 1-888-545-2600. Click here for more information on Mental Health First Aid itself.

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