For Immediate Release

Easterseals Louisiana to Lead Mental Health First Aid Training for Community Members

Easterseals Louisiana awarded half a million dollars from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to transform communities.

New Orleans, LA, January 19, 2023

Media Contact:
Rebecca Chalin

Tracy Garner

[NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA] —Easterseals Louisiana (ESL) announces the launch of its 4-year $500,000 Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded ESL funding to spearhead this initiative through a selective grant process involving multiple screenings and reviews. 

ESL will utilize MHFA’s evidence-based method to train employers, police officers, hospital employees, first responders, community members, and other interested parties to identify, understand, and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges.

Easterseals President and CEO, Tracy Garner says, “Securing a SAMHSA grant is another step in our organizational efforts to meet the ever-changing, diverse needs of our participants and to educate our communities on these needs. This mental health first aid grant and the work we will do to fulfill it demonstrates our commitment to our mission of changing the way the world defines and views disability by making profound, positive differences in people's lives every day.”

Upon completing the training program, those trained in MHFA will impact their local communities through assessing for risk of suicide or harm, listening non-judgmentally, giving reassurance and information, offering concrete professional help, and encouraging self-help strategies. MHFA training will also minimize the use of expensive resources such as emergency departments and law enforcement when people are in crisis.

Mental Health First Aid joins ESL’s continuum of programs designed to make a life of purpose and independence possible for individuals with disabilities through a commitment to quality support, innovative service offerings, and continuous organizational evolution. MHFA training will launch in Northern Louisiana and quickly expand to other areas of the state during 2023. 

About Easterseals Louisiana: 

Easterseals Louisiana (ESL) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to change the way the world defines and views disabilities by making profound, positive differences in people's lives every day. ESL has provided supports to individuals with disabilities in the state since 1951.  Each year ESL’s 200+ team members support over 8,000 individuals and their families across the state through its 12 service sites. “Like” ESL on Facebook (EastersealsLouisiana) or follow us on Instagram and Twitter (@eastersealslouisiana).​

About SAMHSA: 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that supports public health initiatives to improve behavioral health. SAMHSA's mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes.

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