Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour course that trains participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training provides the skills the participants need to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis. Mental Health First Aid takes the fear and hesitation out of starting conversations about mental health and substance use problems by improving understanding and providing an action plan that teaches people to safely and responsibly identify and address a potential mental illness or substance use disorder. Certificated are provided for participants who successfully complete the course.


Serving the Community

  • The economic burden of each serious mental illness in adults is estimated to be at least $2.8 billion for Massachusetts per year.
  • We estimate that almost 600,000 adults in Massachusetts have experienced serious psychological distress in the past 12 months.
  • People living with mental illness are more likely to encounter the criminal justice system and to be arrested, suggesting that mental illness is a factor in incarceration risk. The overall cost of incarceration of the 2,000+ prisoners with serious mental illness in the state of Massachusetts exceeds $300 million per year.
  • People who experience serious psychological distress are more likely to misuse or be dependent on alcohol, prescription opioids, and illicit drugs. During the past decades, the rates of opioid-related hospitalizations and emergency department visits have increased steadily in the U.S. and Massachusetts, despite a recent reduction in prescription opioid sales. The increase in misuse and dependency has resulted in a large increase in fatal overdoses from opioids in the last several years.
  • In Massachusetts, the hospitalization rate in 2014 was 75% higher than the U.S. average. Whereas the absolute number of fatal overdoses by heroin is still lower than overdoses by opioids in Massachusetts, the relative increase in the heroin overdose death rate between 2010 and 2015 is much higher (844%) than the increase in death rate due to opioids (301%).
  • The long-term impact of child abuse and neglect (child maltreatment) can be profound and may endure long after the abuse or neglect occurs. Although, not all forms of abuse and neglect may cause visible injuries, the consequences for children, families, and society can last for generations. Effects can appear in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood and may affect various aspects of an individual’s development (e.g., physical, psychological, behavioral) and have societal consequences. Those consequences include health and mental health, substance abuse, crime, and an ongoing cycle of abuse.
  • Related to child abuse early intervention: Intervention is likely to be more effective and less costly when it is provided earlier in life rather than later.

Goals of the Program

  • Provide training and certification to local citizens who are willing to support community members if one encounters a person facing a mental health challenge.
  • Develop a more empathetic, compassionate community — people who are stakeholders in having a synergistic model of care and support.
  • To train youth on mental health first aid to create a future generation who is caring of their greater community. 

Impact Areas, our goals include:

  • In the first year the goal is to train and certify 300+ adult and youth citizens.

In addition to Ruth’s House, we have committed to establishing partnerships
with the following types of organizations:

  • Merrimack Valley Hope Mission (TBA)
  • Local Service Organizations
  • Public Service Agencies
  • Community Leaders