TOPEKA – (May 13, 2015) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and the Tower Mental Health Foundation of Kansas are recognizing the importance of Mental Health First Aid training for Kansans, Attorney General Schmidt said today. The effort is part of May’s observance of Mental Health Awareness Month
Each year millions of Americans face the realities of living with a mental health condition. Outreach and education is an important part of mental health awareness. According to the national organization, “Mental Health First Aid USA,” the state of Kansas is fourth in the nation for percentage of population trained in Mental Health First Aid. Since 2012, the Tower Mental Health Foundation of Kansas has awarded over $92,000 in grants to provide this important type of training to Kansans. As a result, over 6,000 Kansans have received training in Mental Health First Aid. This number includes staff from 25 out of the 26 community mental health centers across the state who are now certified to continue providing the Mental Health First Aid training to people in their communities.
Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that helps the public identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse disorders. Participants are given an action plan for reacting and supporting an individual developing signs and symptoms of mental illness or emotional crisis.
“Kansas mental health centers have taken on the challenge of training first responders, law enforcement, teachers and other community leaders to effectively respond to mental health crises in the population. Mental Health First Aid is a vital part of accomplishing that goal,” said Dr. Walter Menninger, President of the Tower Foundation. “The Tower Foundation is pleased that it could provide funding for mental health centers to assemble the materials and mobilize the resources necessary to make the program more widely available to the citizens of Kansas.”
“Awareness and education is key in ensuring the proper response in situations involving individuals with mental illness, including suicide prevention,” said Attorney General Schmidt. “Crisis intervention training for law enforcement and others assisting those individuals with mental illness improves the safety of citizens, patrol officers and family members of individuals with mental illness.”
The Tower Mental Health Foundation of Kansas was created as a result of an agreement between the attorney general’s office and the Menninger Foundation in 2007. It offers support to organizations that provide mental health services in Kansas. The attorney general is the sole member of the Foundation, which is staffed by the office of the attorney general. The Foundation’s board of directors is comprised of nine Kansans with a keen interest in mental health issues. Dr. Walter Menninger serves as the Board’s president.