Mental Health First Aid Monthly Newsletter


Hello, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) family!

One of the driving forces behind MHFA and the work of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing is the belief that mental wellbeing – including recovery from substance use – can be a reality for everyone, everywhere. A gleaming example of this is Alexander Hardy – a grits-powered writer; home cook, dancer, lupus survivor, co-founder of creative wellness agency GetSomeJoy and Mental Health First Aider turned MHFA Instructor.

On the heels of five-plus years of unstable housing, including nearly three years in New York City’s loud, chaotic shelters, Hardy found that he feels the most alive in his kitchen, where he feels connected to his mother, grandmother and their Panamanian roots.

“Food is more than a source of sustenance for me. It’s an icebreaker and a way to get friends and strangers to talk about feelings. … Food is a vehicle for joy,” Hardy writes in a recent MHFA blog.

He shares five ways to use food as a tool for practicing mindfulness, fostering connection and centering joy:

  1. Prepare or order a meal that represents joy to you.
    • What dishes represent joy or safety to you? Why?
    • Write about it.
    • Ask a loved one the same question and use that dish to brighten their day.
  2. Reflect and write about your family and cultural food traditions and history.
    • Marinate on your family or community’s connections to food in your journal, or explore this question with community members, students or coworkers.
  3. Host a virtual cook-along with family, friends or co-workers.
    • Pick a date, choose a dish and share the recipe ahead of time. Whether you’re each making the same dish, or you’ve all chosen something different, going through your processes and even enjoying your meals together in a videoconference removes distance as a barrier to connection.
  4. Practice mindful eating by not working or scrolling while eating.
    • What spices or ingredients can you smell? Notice the crunch or the softness in that first bite, how the flavors and textures harmonize (or don’t). Who or what do the flavor or food combinations bring to mind?
    • Appreciate the flavors that linger on your tongue, and the work, creativity or love that brought the meal to your plate. Do a celebratory dance if the spirit moves you!
  5. Experiment with one new recipe per week or month.
    • It doesn’t have to be a holiday-level spread. Try a new sauce or find a copycat recipe of one of your favorite restaurant meals.

To help you take care of your mental wellbeing and support those around you, we shared information and resources via the MHFA blog all month long. Check out these posts or visit us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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Alcohol Use Disorder is Not a Choice: Understanding and Supporting with Mental Health First Aid

“Many of us may be familiar with the phrase, ‘Hindsight is 20/20.’ I know I am. I routinely wish I had known many of the things I know now when I was younger, especially regarding my mother’s life-long challenge with alcohol use.” This moving personal account from MHFA National Trainer Tony Campbell provides insight and hope for those whose lives are touched by alcohol use disorder. Read more.


Bipolar Disorder: How to Help with Mental Health First Aid

Our everyday mood swings aren’t the same as a mood disorder. Bipolar disorder is more prevalent than you may think – 2.8% of adults in the U.S. experienced bipolar disorder in the past year, and it may account for 25% of all completed suicides. This post explains how First Aiders can assist someone living with bipolar disorder. Read more.


Use Person-First Language to Reduce Stigma

Language is powerful, and your choice of words can either break down misconceptions and stereotypes about mental health and substance use challenges, or feed into them. Use this chart from MHFA to incorporate more inclusive language into your discussions about mental wellbeing. Read more.

  • Calling all fire/EMS professionals, public safety workers and veterans! May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we want to give voice to First Aiders like you, who do such great work in these communities. This is your opportunity to contribute to our blog and bring important mental health challenges affecting your communities into the spotlight and share how people can #BeTheDifference with MHFA. Email to learn more.
  • Each year, the National Council awards a one-time $5,000 grant to four outstanding full-time doctoral students who demonstrate significant potential as researchers in their fields of study and who are interested in evaluating the outcomes of MHFA trainings in the U.S. This year’s application is due May 27, 2022. Learn more.

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Interested in mental health and substance use advocacy? Register for the National Council for Mental Wellbeing’s Hill Day at Home, a free, virtual event on June 8. During Hill Day at Home, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from key leaders on the latest mental health and substance use policy developments coming from Capitol Hill and the White House, plus the chance to show your support for key programs like Mental Health First Aid.

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For valuable insight from one of the most commonly used mental health training programs, Stateline – The Pew Charitable Trusts sat down with MHFA’s Tramaine EL-Amin to discuss the recent influx of legislation aimed at improving teens’ mental wellbeing, which has been at an all-time low due in large part to the pandemic. “Every state in this country has adopted youth mental health first aid in some schools in some way,” EL-Amin said. “This year’s surge in legislative activity is helping get the word out.” Read more.


With youth depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation skyrocketing, the Associated Press looks at what schools are doing to address the issue. California-based teacher and certified Youth Mental Health First Aider, Benito Luna-Herrera, is using the skills learned through MHFA to look for signs of inner turmoil and help show students the light at the end of the tunnel. MHFA client experience officer Tramaine EL-Amin shares red flags to look for when a child talks about dying or suicide, which can often sound vague like: “I can’t do this anymore,” or “I’m tired of this.” Read more.


After losing three classmates to suicide, students at Dover High School (DHS) in New Hampshire formed a Mental Health Initiative. The Dover Mental Health Alliance will fund two years of teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) training. DHS sophomore Catie Moe reflects that after the training, “I can, and I have, gone up to people and said, ‘How’s it going; is anything bothering you? Do you need or want to talk about it?” She adds, “I can let them know there are people who care — me, parents, teachers, counselors. I can tell them we all care, and we really want to help.” Read more.


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Visit GACRS “The Adoptive Family Journey” Facebook Group

We invite you to join our forever family Facebook group,  “The Adoptive Family Journey.” This group is sponsored by the Georgia Center for   Resources and Support (GACRS). It is a site for all adoptive families living in Georgia to connect, share, and learn from  other their journey as an adoptive family.

GACRS’ purpose for supporting The Adoptive Family Journey is to have adoptive families share and learn from one another. Adoption is rewarding but has its challenges as well. Feel free to share your heart, your struggles, and your successes.



Camp Fire Georgia: Summer Camps are Coming

  • After School Programs in Stephens County
  • Haunted Forest – October 16
  • Work Days – October to December
  • Clyde’s New Years Rockin’ Eve Weekend

After School Program in Stephens County

If your child(ren) was enrolled in the Boys Club/Girls Club after school program, please know that the Camp Fire After School program has limited availability. Our staff will be happy to welcome new students!

It's Haunted Forest Time

Saturday, October 16 from 6:00 – 10:00 PM

Haunted Forest has become one of Camp Fire Georgia’s most anticipated events! This family-friendly event sees ghosts, goblins, and ghouls from across north Georgia. They participate in games. There are mazes for the small ones and a haunted house for the older and bolder. Trick-or-Treating, Marshmallow Toasting, a Hay Dig, and more! All parking and admissions will be at Toccoa Creek Baptist Church (1636 Falls Road, Toccoa GA, 30577). Ticket sales will end at 9:00 PM.

Rain date will be October 23. More information here!

Volunteer for Haunted Forest

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS to greet guests, assist with off-site parking and transportation to camp, run carnival games, pass out candy, and more! Great for individuals, youth groups, service organizations, etc. Camp Fire Georgia will gladly provide documentation of service hours for those who need it. More information may be found here, along with the volunteer waiver forms. Please complete and return to Mary McSherry.

Summer Camps are Coming

Camp Fire Georgia is EXCITED about welcoming Summer, 2022. Both day camp and residence camp will be operating, so make your plans now to grab a spot when Camp Toccoa Overnight Camp and Owenyake Day Camp open for registration soon!

Shortly after that, we’ll begin the process of hiring our Summer, 2022 staff! It’s going to be an absolutely incredibly fabulous summer for our staff, with surprises and more!

Wo-He-Lo Work Days - October through December

Camp looks FABULOUS, thanks to the hard work of staff and our amazing volunteers! But there is still more to be done to keep up our beloved property. There is an important work day on October 9th to get ready for Haunted Forest. Lots of general cleaning, most of which can be done with brooms, fittingly.

Additional dates for Wo-He-Lo Work Days are October 23rd, when we will clean up from Haunted Forest and winterize cabins; November 13th, and December 11th. If you can work one of the weekends, please let Sue Edwards know you are coming so that she knows how many people will attend.

If you can’t be in camp on a regularly scheduled work day, let the council know when you would like to come and tasks can be prepared for you and whoever comes with you. (Please arrange that in advance!) If this is your first Work Day, welcome, and please download forms here and return to Mary McSherry!

Clyde's New Years Rockin' Eve Weekend

Clyde’s New Years Rockin’ Eve Weekend will be December 31st – January 2nd. Kids have a great time, and parents get a weekend for their own celebrations. Information coming soon!

Our Promise

Young people want to shape the world.

Camp Fire provides the opportunity to find their spark,

lift their voice, and discover who they are.

In Camp Fire, it begins now.

Mental Health First Aid Monthly Newsletter


As the weather begins to cool and the days become shorter, many of us will welcome Fall with open arms. Fall tends to be a busier time for many – last minute trips, children are back in school and we mentally prepare and plan for the holiday season ahead.

The added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic may make this time of year a bit more challenging. And with many schools and offices re-opening, it can be difficult to keep track of new COVID-19 guidelines and mandates. It’s especially important during this transition to make space for your mental health, and we’re here to help with tips and resources from Mental Health First Aid (MHFA).

September is National Suicide Prevention and Recovery Month. To mark the observance we shared tips from the MHFA curriculum on how to help youth who may be experiencing a crisis, as well as how you can support your loved ones in their recovery journey. As a Mental Health First Aider, you play an important role, simply by giving those around you hope. Knowing the latest information about mental health and substance use challenges can help you support them and prevent a crisis situation.

We also shared different ways you can begin your self-care journey and how to support loved ones as we continue to cope with the collective trauma caused by COVID-19. You can #BeTheDifference this season by not only supporting the mental wellbeing of those around you, but by taking care of your own.

Be sure to check out our blog and social media channels for daily information and tips – follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram!


Youth Suicide: How to Help with Mental Health First Aid 

The discussions you have with a young person about suicide are important. By opening a dialogue and supporting them in their time of need, you can be their initial support resource if they are experiencing a mental health crisis. Use tips from Youth MHFA to address the topic of youth suicide and steer a young person in the right direction for resources and support. Read more.


The Four Dimensions of Recovery and How You Can Support Them

Recovery is a personal journey with the goals of hope, empowerment and autonomy. It is a process through which people are able to live, work and participate fully in their communities. As a First Aider, you can play a key role in supporting those around you on their recovery journey guided by the four dimensions of recovery. Read more.


Post-COVID-19 Trauma and How MHFA Can Help

COVID-19 has impacted everything from jobs to school to our mental wellbeing. As a First Aider, it’s important to have the skills, information and resources to manage the impact of trauma associated with the pandemic and support one another. You can #BeTheDifference and use the MHFA Action Plan to take care of yourself and your loved ones. Read more.


Self-care: Where Do I Start?

Taking care of your own mental health is crucial. By taking care of yourself first, you can offer the best support possible to those around you while living a happier and healthier life. Use tips from MHFA to develop your personal self-care plan and #BeTheDifference for yourself this Fall. Read more.

National Council Poll Finds Youth Mental Health Worsened
Dramatically Because of COVID-19 Pandemic

A majority of parents say their children’s mental wellbeing worsened during the past year-and-a-half because of remote learning and social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new poll conducted with Morning Consult. The poll highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people and the increasing need for mental health and substance use information, resources and support for families and schools. The data arrives at a time of rising concerns across the country about young people returning to in-person learning in schools this fall. Read the press release for more about these important findings.

New Web-based Guide to Support Youth Mental Wellbeing

Fifty percent of all mental disorders begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24. Bringing awareness of mental health at a young age is more important than ever. CONNECTED, a two-year project launched by the National Council, believes that meaningful youth-adult partnerships can inspire transformational change in mental health services that lead to improved youth mental wellbeing. A new web-based guide is now online that outlines how adults can partner with youth to create mental health supports that are inclusive and responsive to their lived experiences. Learn more about CONNECTED

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Suicide of a 14-year-old boy inspired Kingman, Kansas, Kingman Healthcare Center to bring MHFA to the community to better equip community members to recognize and respond to signs of a mental health crisis. Read more.


Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Mental Health First Aid in Rural Texas is bringing MHFA trainings to members of the military and their families, law enforcement, first responders, health care workers and others who reside or serve in rural settings in Texas to promote mental health. Read more.


Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah is providing MHFA as a resource to help individuals prioritize their mental health and support those around them during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.


CWLA the Networker

CWLA Celebrates Kinship Care Month
September is Kinship Care Month. Please join CWLA as we celebrate three decades of dedication to kinship caregiving families and recognize all of the relatives, members of the extended family, and tribes and clans who provide round-the-clock protecting and nurturing for children, either through informal family arrangements or child protective services. Nearly three million kinship caregivers across the country provide safety, support, cultural ties, and affection for the children in their care. Unique family circumstances cause stress for relatives, parents, and children including health and mental health challenges, financial and other burdens. Yet kinship caregivers – grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings who are older, and members of the extended family who are not related – prevail. Let’s use Kinship Care Month to recognize their dedication! CWLA resources to support kinship caregivers include:


Infants with history of reported maltreatment at greater risk of death from medical causes
A study finds a heightened risk of death from medical causes for infants with histories of reported maltreatment, suggesting a need for ongoing care coordination between the child protection system and pediatric health providers.

Apple walks back plans for new child safety tools after privacy backlash
Apple made headlines — and not the good kind — last month when it announced a test of a new tool aimed at combating child exploitation. Critics quickly decried the feature’s potential privacy implications, and now Apple is taking a long pit stop before moving forward with its plans. On Friday, the company said it will pause testing the tool in order to gather more feedback and make improvements.

Governor signs bipartisan child welfare overhaul bill
Carolina Public Press
Children in North Carolina’s foster care system may be placed in permanent homes faster after Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill with several changes to the state’s child welfare processes on Wednesday.

The 4 F’s for proactive online child protection
EIN Presswire
As parents, caregivers, and allied professionals, have you ever wondered how to proactively supervise what is happening with children online? Have your children been on gaming devices, cellphones, and other digital devices and you have no knowledge as to what they are doing online?

Couple who fostered 620 kids in 56 years reveal golden rules of parenting including how to deal with jealousy & time-out
The Sun
The pair have tended to newborns, toddlers and teens – all while raising five children of their own. And Pauline, now 81, says they never forgot a youngster’s name or birthday, and always believed every foster child was as important as their own.

Juvenile cases in 2019 dropped to the lowest level in 14 years, federal data show
Youth Today
Juvenile offenses involving property, drug and public order offenses, combined, declined in 2019 to their lowest levels since 2005, according to recently released National Center on Juvenile Justice data also showing that probation, rather than detention, increasingly was assigned in five categories of juvenile crime.

Prevention education: More important than ever
Social Work Today
With trauma at unprecedented levels, it’s time everyone—from school administrators to government officials—steps up efforts to dismantle the child sexual abuse and exploitation epidemic. One of the highest forms of love is service. A form of service is protection. Without feelings of safety and security, a child cannot thrive.



TRAINING – Fostering School Success: How Caregivers and Social Workers Can Support the Educational Needs of Children 

September 21 & 28 and October 5 & 12, 2021 

12:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET

This skill-building training opportunity will share how to improve school experiences and long-term outcomes for children who have experienced trauma. Participants in this training will 1) develop an understanding of common barriers to educational access and engagement for youth who have experienced trauma; 2) learn practical strategies for cultivating resilience at home that will lead to improved school performance; 3) advance their knowledge of the education system and supports available to children with special needs and circumstances who have also experienced trauma; and 4) expand their collaboration and advocacy toolkits to ensure children and youth have access to high quality schooling. To learn more and for online registration, click here.

TRAINING – Crisis Assessment and Intervention When Trauma Strikes: A Five-Step Approach to Foster Hope, Collaboration, and Change 

October 13, 20, 27 and November 3, 2021

1:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET

CWLA is hosting Michael J. Schultz, Ed.D. licensed psychologist, family therapist, systems consultant and CWLA Fellow for this four-part, skill-building training, which is based on his upcoming CWLA Press publication titled, Systems Consultation When Trauma Strikes: Stories of Hope, Collaboration, and Change. The soaring pressure and lofty expectations confronting educational and human services professionals are having an impact on all levels of the workforce. As such, it is increasingly apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic, racial unrest, political strife, and economic disparities leave many well-meaning professionals feeling overwhelmed, under-supervised, and highly susceptible to symptoms of primary and secondary traumatic stress. Facilitated conversations using a five-step approach is one way to foster the hope, collaboration, and change needed to assess and intervene when trauma and tragedy strike. These facilitated conversations seek to cultivate environments of safety and trust, significant supervisory support, increased tolerance for ambiguity and stress, and a well-formulated team orientation. Registration information to come soon. Save the dates!


The Fierce Urgency of Now: Collective Action to Ensure Children and Families Flourish 

April 27-29, 2022 – Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

Join us for our 2022 national conference that will feature successful strategies, research, practices, advocacy, and actions that individuals, families, organizations, and communities are using to improve supports and services for the health and well-being of children, youth, and families. For more information, click here.




CWLA is pleased to announce the publication of Volume 99, Number 2 of Child Welfare journal. This new issue features articles on African American MSW students’ attitudes toward transracial adoption; a safety assessment and family evaluation model; the efficacy of parenting resources that combat physical punishment; youth with foster care experience who are navigating college; and much more. Order your copy today!




Help CWLA become a GreatNonprofits Top-Rated Charity for 2021! Post brief comments of your experience with us to help raise visibility for our important work. All reviews will be visible to potential donors and volunteers on GreatNonprofits, an important source of nonprofit stories and feedback. Please take a few minutes to share your comments and help CWLA help children, youth, and families who are vulnerable. Get started now!

The CWLA Emerging Leaders Committee and the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) will be offering the webinar, Empowering the Child Welfare Workforce and its Emerging Leaders, on September 28 at 4:00 pm ET. Opportunities for leadership exist at all levels – regardless of job title or years of experience. The field of child welfare continues to face challenges related to recruitment and retention of qualified and diverse staff that reflect the families served. These challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the significant impact of recent and historical social and racial justice issues. While there are many reasons for challenges in the child welfare workforce, one of the more significant challenges impacting emerging leaders is lack of opportunity, support, and coaching for career advancement. This webinar will present helpful steps that emerging leaders can take to promote their own growth and development of critical leadership skills in their existing position or agency and share concrete ways that agencies can support emerging leaders. In addition to a panel discussion, there will be interactive ways to provide input on future opportunities for emerging leaders, and helpful resources that participants can use now to continue building their leadership skills. To register, click here.

Julie Collins, CWLA Vice President, Practice Excellence and Marcus Stallworth, CWLA Director, Training and Implementation will be presenting the workshop, COVID-19 and Its Impact on Mental Health for Populations Who are Vulnerable at Relias’ Impact Nation 2021 conference on September 21. They will discuss the many ways the COVID-19 pandemic impacted children’s social and emotional well-being, explore some of the challenges contributing to the breakdown of individual mental health, access to resources, and service delivery. They also will share observations and lessons learned which can be transferred into best practice moving forward

CWLA member organization, Parents Anonymous® recently received the rating of Supportive from the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse on all 3 program areas: Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Parenting. They are one of five programs that effectively improved child safety and prevents child abuse and neglect. They were excited to share the Clearinghouse results, “The studies reviewed by the Clearinghouse found that Parents Anonymous® reduced subsequent child maltreatment substantiations by more than half as compared to parents who did not use the program, even after leaving the Parents Anonymous® program a year later. Additionally, the study found that Parents Anonymous® predominately served communities of color, one of the communities in highest need of services.”



The Office of Early Childhood Development, a part of the Administration for Children and Families, is hosting a free 60-minute training on the Child Tax Credit new application tool for non-filers on September 9 at 4:30 pm ET or September 10 at 1:00 pm ET. The session will provide an overview of the Child Tax Credit and walk through the Non-Filer Portal to demonstrate how everyone can help members of their community enroll in the Child Tax Credit. For more information on the Child Tax Credit, click here.

National Child Welfare Workforce Institute and the Children’s Bureau will be hosting a virtual Child Welfare Worker Recognition Event on September 14 at 3:00 pm. Speakers will talk about your ability to positively influence a life’s trajectory through the heart, the head, and the hands. This event is all about celebrating the people who do so much to empower children, youth, and families facing a variety of life challenges and obstacles. To learn more and register, click here.

The Capacity Building Center for States is hosting the upcoming Child Welfare Virtual Expo (CWVE) on September 23, a free annual event. This year’s focus of the CWVE is advancing racial equity in child welfare. This topic will address the racism and bias that continue to create disproportional representation in the child welfare system and disparities in outcomes for Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and other children, youth, and families of color. To learn more, click here.

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) has released a new brief series, Beyond the Mask: Promoting Transformation and Healing in School Reopening, which focus on three key components of school-based mental health:

Each brief highlights the states using Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund dollars to invest in the components and offers key recommendations.

Did you know that your organization could be eligible for thousands of dollars in pandemic assistance via the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)? Non-profit organizations are eligible to claim ERTC funds. Even if your organization does not pay taxes, you can get the credits in the form of a cash credit. You could get these funds in the form of a refundable, advanceable tax credit and you can still qualify for the ERTC, even if you claimed Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funds. For more information, visit Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS).