Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare Introduces Mental Health First Aid to Nassau County, FL

A new Mental Health First Aid program is being launched in Northeast Florida by Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare of Yulee, FL.


Yulee, FL -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/09/2014 -- Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare has launched the first Mental Health First Aid program in Nassau County, Florida. The non-profit behavioral health agency in Yulee has begun training local residents to improve mental health literacy by helping them identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness.

The National Council certified two staff members at Starting Point Behavioral Health to provide the Mental Health First Aid program through an instructor certification course. Carrie Anderson Mays and Katrina Robinson Wheeler conducted the first training in March 2014 for Starting Point’s Board of Directors. They are scheduling additional training for first responders, law enforcement officers, educators, health care workers and other members of the public who are interested in the training.

“We are very excited to bring Mental Health First Aid to our community,” said Laureen Pagel, Ph.D, CEO of Starting Point. “This important educational effort goes a lot further than emergency intervention; it really helps people understand the shroud of fear and misjudgment facing individuals and families who experience mental illnesses and addiction. It will help overcome the associated stigma and move more and more people toward recovery.”

Pagel noted that, like First Aid or CPR training, the Mental Health First Aid program teaches individuals skills they can use to assist someone in a crisis and know how to direct them to professional intervention or care.

Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour training certification course that teaches participants a five-step action plan to assess a situation, select and implement interventions and secure appropriate care for the individual. The certification program introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact and overviews common treatments. Thorough evaluations in randomized controlled trials and a quantitative study have proved the CPR-like program effective in improving trainees’ knowledge of mental disorders, reducing stigma and increasing the amount of help provided to others.

“We welcome Starting Point’s involvement and enthusiasm in the Mental Health First Aid community,” says Linda Rosenberg, MSW, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, the organization who brought Mental Health First Aid to the United States in 2008. “We know they will have a great impact on the mental health communities throughout Nassau County and the First Coast, and will be key players in improving mental health literacy nationwide.”

In its pilot year, the program was introduced in nearly 20 states and more than 40 communities nationwide. Starting Point, and all the sites across the nation that replicate this program, maintain strict fidelity to the original, proven program.

Mental Health First Aid originated in 2001 in Australia under the direction of founders Betty Kitchener and Tony Jorm. To date, it has been replicated in 20 other countries worldwide, including Hong Kong, Scotland, England, Canada, Finland, and Singapore.

For more information or to participate in a Mental Health First Aid training in Nassau County, visit or call Starting Point at 904.225.8280.

About Starting Point Behavioral Health
Starting Point Behavioral Health provides mental health and substance abuse treatment services to children, teens and adults in the Fernandina Beach, Yulee, Hilliard and Nassau County, FL region. Serving more than 3,700 individuals each year, Starting Point is a non-profit agency.

The National Council for Behavioral Health is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 2,000+ behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly seven million adults, children and families in communities across the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to the fact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitation services offered in community settings help people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders recover and lead productive lives.