Mental Health First Aid

The Maine Masonic Charitable Foundation is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Maine chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.  An important component of their advocacy and leadership is a course called Mental Health First Aid. The Foundation is supporting the offering of this course to educators and administrators in schools all over the state of Maine.


Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that teaches how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses, depression, and substance use disorders. The training gives school staff the skills needed to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem, experiencing a crisis, or having suicidal thoughts.

Most of us would know how to help if we saw someone having a heart attack—we’d start CPR, or at the very least, call 9-1-1. But too few of us would know how to respond if we saw someone having a panic attack.  We might not know how to reach out to a person if we suspect s/he is depressed, frightened, or in 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 school staff to safely and responsibly identify and address suicidal thoughts, a potential mental illness or substance use disorder.

Since 1979, this course has been given to over 1 million people nationwide and is an important addition to the Social/Emotional Learning (SEL) programs currently being given in a number of Maine schools.

For more information on this program, please contact Amanda Larson, Executive Director of the Foundation, at