May 10, 2022
Deidre McCabe, Director, Office of Communications, 410-767-3536
Chase Cook, Deputy Director for Media Relations, 410-767-6491
Maryland Department of Health announces Mental Health First Aid Training for historically Black colleges and universities
This Mental Health Awareness Month, the state’s four historically Black colleges and universities will begin mental health and substance use disorder training from the Mental Health Association of Maryland
Baltimore, MD – The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) has launched Mental Health First Aid Training in Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Mental Health First Aid Training is a national certification program providing skills-based training to identify the signs and symptoms of mental health or substance use challenges.
Announced in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, this initiative aims to train 20,000 students, faculty, and staff members across four HBCUs — Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore — during the next four years.
“This Mental Health Awareness Month, we celebrate an important partnership that has the potential to identify and help address often unforeseen issues in the lives of students who attend these valued institutions,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “Mental Health First Aid Training is a nationally recognized program that expands the support for young people who are disproportionately experiencing behavioral health crises at a critical time of need.”
In Maryland, 52 percent of Black high school students (ages 14 to 19) reported feeling significantly sadder and more hopeless the past year compared to the statewide average of 36 percent, according to the 2021 Youth Pandemic Behavior Survey. In 2019, suicide was the third leading cause of death for Black Americans ages 15 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Mental Health First Aid Training provides the opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to learn when they, or someone they know, may benefit from mental health and substance abuse treatment,” said MDH Acting Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health Dr. Lisa Burgess. “The training also teaches people how to engage in conversations around this need — including how to address social stigma — and connect those in need with available resources.”
This Mental Health First Aid training initiative, which MDH previously announced for Maryland’s first responders, is being coordinated for Maryland HBCUs by the Mental Health Association of Maryland and MDH’s Behavioral Health Administration with funding provided through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Mental Health Block Grant.
To learn more about Mental Health First Aid Training, visit mentalhealthfirstaid.org/about or the Mental Health Association of Maryland website.
NOTE TO MEDIA: MDH Acting Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health, Dr. Lisa Burgess, will be available Tuesday, May 10, for interviews from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Please contact Chase.Cook@maryland.gov to set up an interview.
The Maryland Department of Health is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management and community engagement.