The LaPorte County Drug Free Partnership Introduces Youth Mental Health First Aid to LaPorte County

By: LaPorte County Drug Free Partnership Last Updated: March 9, 2015

LaPorte County Joins National Initiative to Increase Mental Health Literacy

laportecounty-drug-free-partnershipLaPorte County Drug Free Partnership is initiating the Youth Mental Health First Aid program to train members of the public to improve mental health literacy – helping them identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness.

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis.

The Drug Free Partnership is offering the free one-day class on two different dates - April 9th and 30th - at the Northern Indiana Education Foundation, Michigan City. Slots are limited, so it’s important to register as early as possible. The full-day session will be held from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, and lunch will be provided. Funding is by the SAPT Block Grant through Indiana FSSA/Division of Mental Health and Addiction.

To register for April 9th go to

For the April 30th class, go to to register.

“We are thrilled to bring Youth Mental Health First Aid to our community,” said Joseph Bunch, Co-coordinator of the Strategic Prevention Framework grant under the Drug Free Partnership. “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 rid this community of the associated stigma and move more and more people toward recovery.”

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour training certification course which 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.

Mental health challenges – such as depression, anxiety, psychosis and substance use – are shockingly common in the United States. In fact, research shows more than one in five American youth will have a mental health problem in any given year. Identified on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, the training helps the public better identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses.

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.

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.

“We welcome the LaPorte County Drug Free Partnership’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 which brought the program to the United States in 2008. “We know they will have a great impact on the mental health communities throughout LaPorte County, 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. The National Council certified Joseph D. Bunch and Micki Webb, both Licensed Clinical Social Workers from the Drug Free Partnership to provide the Mental Health First Aid program. All the sites across the nation that replicate this program maintain strict fidelity to the original, proven program.

For more information on Mental Health First Aid, visit For further details about the local programs contact or, and for more info on local drug free efforts, check out the LaPorte County Drug Free Partnership Facebook page

The mission of the LaPorte County Drug Free Partnership is to bring together individuals, organizations, and agencies both public and private, who seek to provide optimal resources for the combating of Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug abuse in LaPorte County, which includes specific focus on binge drinking, prescription drug abuse, marijuana usage, and youth prevention efforts.

The LaPorte County DFP, formed in 1989, is considered a Local Coordinating Council under the Governor’s Commission for a Drug Free Indiana. Active and Associate members represent concerned citizens and representatives from dozens of county organizations interested in helping to solve problems caused by substance abuse / addiction in LaPorte County.

The county’s plan is developed by the Drug Free Partnership membership for approval by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. The current LaPorte County three-year plan is targeting the following goals by 2017:

  • Reduce the LaPorte County alcohol misuse rate priority score by 5% from 230 to 218.
  • Reduce the LaPorte County marijuana abuse index rate by 5% from 167 to 158.
  • Reduce heroin and heroin related deaths by 3% via increased capacity for prevention, treatment and diversion.
  • Reduce nonmedical prescription drug use by 3%.