As part of the City’s Thrive NYC initiative, launched by First Lady Chirlane McCray in November 2015, the NYC Department of Health is offering free MHFA trainings to all New Yorkers. The public education program teaches the skills needed to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance abuse challenges and crises.
The Department of Veteran Services has helped to create a veteran- and military service member-specific version of the Mental Health First Aid training, designed to address the unique mental health challenges they may experience.
New York City is home to 210,000 veterans, and approximately 500,000 veterans and military family members, 11 percent of who served post-9/11, according to city data. Nearly three million service members have deployed for at least twelve months to Iraq or Afghanistan since September 11, 2001; 40 percent of them have deployed for multiple tours of duty.
A 2010 survey of New York veterans by the RAND Corporation revealed that 22 percent of returning veterans have a probable mental health diagnosis, with 16 percent screening for major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. They are eight times more likely to have PTSD and twice as likely to have major depression.
But family members and personnel working with military members are often not aware of how to engage veterans with mental illnesses and addictions.
In addition to the impact of military service on the veteran, each former or current service member has a circle of family, including children, parents, siblings, and friends who are also impacted by their military service. Mental Health First Aid for Veterans focuses on the unique experiences and needs of the military, veteran and family population.
MHFA participants receive direct training on how to provide initial help to anyone experiencing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis and substance abuse orders. Additionally, through presentations by a mental health expert, participants also learn how to identify and address mental health issues, and how to support them to get the professional support they need to receive long-term help.
New Yorkers interested in attending the training at Brooklyn Public Library can RSVP here. The Veteran’s Mental Health First Aid Course will take place at 10 Grand Army Plaza, from 9:30am to 5:30pm.
Those who would like to register for an upcoming training should contact a Veteran Peer Coordinator or call 212-416-5250.
In addition, veterans in need can receive immediate support through NYC Well, the city’s mental health line, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through phone, text and chat by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL, texting WELL to 65173, or online chat by going to nyc.gov/nycwell.