Mental Health First Aid

The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) recently coordinated a training on Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). Developed in 2001, the goal of MHFA is to teach members of the public (“helpers”) how to respond in a mental health emergency and offer support to someone who appears to be in emotional distress.

Because the training is designed for members of the public, there are a number of generally-held myths that need to be addressed. Once thought to affect very few, it’s estimated that one in five Americans will experience a diagnosable mental disorder in any year. That means that most of us will have a family member, neighbor, colleague, friend, or others we encounter who face a mental health challenge. But we also need to keep in mind that many of these people lead productive and satisfying lives, sometimes with little or no access to formal mental health services.
Recovery is defined as regaining physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional balance. The most important component of recovery is hope. This means that the most important role of the helper is to offer hope. The helper also provides support in order for the person to feel less distressed and to seek further assistance.

The best way to help is to listen, to give the person your full attention. Listening may be the most effective link in helping a person to seek treatment. In order to listen well, the helper needs to:
• Avoid premature conclusions based on your own life experiences.
• Help the person understand self.
• Permit the person to retain ownership of the challenge.
• Listen without judging.
• Maintain an optimistic attitude.

The Mental Health First Aid Training includes a manual with the following:
• Overview of mental health problems
• Information on specific mental health problems including depression, suicide, anxiety disorders, psychosis, substance use, eating disorders, and crises
• Action plan for help that includes assessment, listening, giving reassurance, and encouraging appropriate professional and self-help.

A certified instructor provides the 8-hour training which is highly interactive. The training day that NFPN coordinated was offered in a rural area and attended primarily by first responders (police, firefighters, EMTs) along with a school counselor, pastors, professional mental health counselor, senior citizen center manager, and national organization administrator. The workplace cultural differences in the group were very apparent early on! However, in rural areas it’s critical to work across systems and the training was especially useful in that regard. There are no behavioral health services offered in this rural town so it’s essential to have this type of training.

The training day (including lunch, snacks) was funded by the state behavioral health contracting organization.

For more information visit

Posted by Priscilla Martens, NFPN Executive Director

Principles of Longevity

Please be sure to read the Year-End Announcements at the end of this post.

The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. For perspective, as few as 4% of businesses are in existence at 25 years. Nonprofits as a group are still relatively young with 90% of nonprofits having been created since 1950.

What is the significance of 25 years? It so happens that 25 years is considered one generation: the length of time between the birth of an adult and the birth of this person’s child. In effect, NFPN is now a mature adult and ready to give another 25 years!

In reviewing NFPN’s past and planning for our future, I believe that the following principles have contributed to our longevity and serve as a guide for the future:

  1. Mission Integrity: NFPN’s mission is to serve as the primary national voice for the preservation of families. When NFPN was first established there were many national voices promoting family preservation because a major funder paid for staff of national organizations to do this. But when the funding dried up, so did most of the national voices advocating for family preservation. NFPN has adhered to its mission throughout its existence.
  2. Deep Dive on Initiatives: NFPN has initiatives in four areas: family preservation, reunification, father involvement, and assessment. We have focused on these areas because all of them are critical to our mission of preserving families.
  3. Evidence-Based: NFPN has conducted numerous research projects and then applied the findings to tools and training that lead to best practice. And best practice advances the field which leads to more effective and efficient resources to serve families.
  4. Collaboration: NFPN has had over 50 partnerships with other organizations. That has allowed us to leverage our small size and limited resources into big projects and outstanding outcomes.
  5. Working Board: There are no celebrities on NFPN’s Board of Directors! Board members contribute their time and expertise in the roles of organizational and financial oversight, ambassadors, trainers, salesforce, and encouragers.
  6. Self-Sufficiency: NFPN has moved from being totally dependent on grants in the early years to becoming self-sufficient through the sale of products, training, and technical assistance. While grants are certainly welcome and appreciated, NFPN would have ceased to exist if we had remained dependent on grants.

These core principles have guided NFPN over the past 25 years and will serve as the anchor for our future!

Important Year-End Announcements: For those customers who have/plan to purchase a NCFAS-G/NCFAS-G+R/TWB assessment tool, free web database demos are scheduled for:

Wed, Nov 15, at 4:00 p.m. ET     Fri, Nov 17, at 11:00 a.m. ET

To reserve a space for the database demo, please email

Introductory pricing for the web database expires on December 20, 2017.

In response to the opioid epidemic, NFPN is offering substance abuse video training. For information, please visit

Posted by Priscilla Martens, NFPN Executive Director

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