- Associated Press - Sunday, June 15, 2014

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - The New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association is holding a five-day, intensive training program next month to certify 30 people as Mental Health First Aid instructors.

The program is being offered July 7-11 at The Yard in Manchester in coordination with the state Department of Health and Human Service’s bureau of behavioral health. Participants will include people from community mental health centers as well as from other organizations.

The association said it is the first statewide Mental Health First Aid training to be offered in the United States. Other states have offered the program on local, county or regional levels.

“The mental health crisis in New Hampshire requires a comprehensive approach and a robust set of tools to help consumers, families and communities better deal with mental illness,” said association President Jay Couture.

He said the 30 people trained as instructors will train others in the community to better understand, identify and know how to deal with mental health episodes. He compared the training to how first aid is used to address medical injuries and health emergencies. The training will help people identify mental illness sooner to provide early intervention, he said.

The program will prepare people to teach others to recognize the symptoms of common mental illnesses and addiction disorders, safely de-escalate crises, initiate timely referrals, and de-stigmatize mental illness.

Couture said the program was started in the United States in 2008 and has trained 100,000 people.