May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Residents Encouraged to Increase their Mental Health Literacy


PITTSBURGH – County Executive Rich Fitzgerald today proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness Month, calling attention to strategies and approaches to understanding and responding to those who have a mental illness.

“Mental health is just as essential to a person’s overall health and well-being as any other piece of our wellness.  Too often in our community, individuals who have mental disorders do not seek treatment because of the stigma that surrounds mental health and concerns that they will be discriminated against or ridiculed,” said Fitzgerald. “One in every four American adults will have a mental health disorder this year and the public needs to be educated about its impact on our community.  That education will allow us to promote understanding and social acceptance of people with these disorders.”

During May, the Department of Human Services (DHS) Office of Behavioral Health, in association with the Southwest PA Regional Mental Health First Aid Collaborative, will offer more than 15 separate Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainings throughout the region. The 12-hour training is designed for people who have little or no formal training about mental health and is very similar to first aid for medical emergencies.

“The purpose of the training is to better identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and, therefore, improve outcomes for individuals experiencing a mental disorder,” said Donald Clark, DHS Deputy Director Office of Behavioral Health.

MHFA training is an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders. Participants will learn how to preserve life, prevent future harm, promote recovery, and provide comfort and support. The training also provides background information, resources, and concrete actions that anyone can use to address depression, anxiety disorders, psychoses, substance use disorders, eating disorders, and mental health crises.

MHFA trainings are free and available year-round. Since January 2013, 500 people have received MHFA training.  For more information about MHFA, or to participate in Mental Health First Aid training in Allegheny County, visit World Wide Web Icon www.ahci.org/html/mhfa/.

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