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Begich, Ayotte Secure Mental Health First Aid Funding

Successful Bipartisan Effort Brings $15 Million in Mental Health First Aid Resources

Due to the tireless bipartisan efforts of U.S. Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), the recent omnibus appropriations bill includes $15 million for mental health first aid training, a program designed to increase community awareness and public safety.

“Mental illness affects millions of Americans, creating challenges for families and communities all over the country,” said Begich. “Mental health first aid training allows us to make a real difference by teaching individuals how to recognize the signs of mental illness to gain a better understanding of early intervention.  These funds will go a long way to give Alaskans such as our teachers and first responders better resources to keep our citizens healthy and safe..”

“Identifying the warning signs of mental illness and helping individuals get the treatment they need is critical. I’ve worked across party lines to bolster mental health first aid training, and these resources will help those who work in our schools, communities and hospitals better understand mental illness and how to help people in crisis get access to care,” said Ayotte.

The funding will allow for the availability of grants in order to provide mental health first aid training to schools and colleges.

Begich and Ayotte have worked side by side on issues relating to mental health first aid and are lead sponsors of the Mental Health First Aid Act (S 153).  The bill would provide support for training programs to help the public identify, understand, and address crisis situations safely.  It would train first responders, police officers, K-12 and college educators, behavioral health and primary care professionals. The measure also calls for protocols to increase familiarity with mental health services available in local communities.

Begich and Ayotte are also co-sponsors of the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act (S. 689), which was approved as part of broader mental health legislation that was approved by the Senate last spring on a vote of 95-2. The two senators also sponsored a mental health first aid training for Senate staffers on Capitol Hill in December.

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