Skip to site content

Albuquerque Area Offers Mental Health First Aid Courses

by Jennifer S. Nanez, Health System Specialist, Albuquerque Area, Indian Health Service

The Indian Health Service (IHS), Albuquerque Area Behavioral Health, in partnership with the IHS Office of Clinical and Preventive Services (OCPS) Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) recently hosted courses to certify Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructors for adults and youth. 

MHFA gives people the skills to help someone who is experiencing a mental health problem or a mental health crisis. Trainees are taught how to apply the 5-step action plan in a variety of situations such as helping someone through a panic attack, engaging with someone who may be suicidal, or assisting an individual who has overdosed.

This training session was funded in part by a Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI) funding proposal for the Albuquerque Area.  These courses certified 22 new youth MHFA instructors and 24 new adult MHFA instructors, creating sustainability for implementation of evidence-based practice curricula in our tribal communities and service area in mental health awareness and suicide prevention. 

Programs and communities represented by instructor certification participants include:

  • Pueblo of Acoma Behavioral Health-MSPI Program
  • Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Inc.-Circles of Life Program
  • First Nations Community Healthsource
  • Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos-MSPI Program
  • Isleta Pueblo Behavioral Health-MSPI Program
  • Jemez Pueblo Health Clinic
  • Jicarilla Apache Nation
  • Laguna Pueblo Behavioral Health Services
  • Kewa Family Wellness Center (Santo Domingo Pueblo)-MSPI Program
  • Mescalero Apache Tribe Four Directions Treatment Center
  • New Sunrise Regional Treatment Center
  • Ohkay Owingeh Boys and Girls Club-MSPI Program
  • Ramah Navajo Behavioral Health-DVPI Program
  • Santa Clara Pueblo Behavioral Health Program
  • Santa Clara Pueblo-DVPI Program
  • Taos Pueblo Behavioral Health-MSPI Program
  • Albuquerque Area Indian Health Service/Division of Clinical Quality
  • Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board-Native Connections Grant program
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs-Office of Justice Services/Law Enforcement
  • NW New Mexico First Born Program
  • NM Department of Health, Public Health Division
  • UNM CBH Honoring Native Life Program
  • Tribal Tech LLC.

To date, the Indian Health Service, Albuquerque Area Office, Division of Clinical Quality/Behavioral Health has offered training in multiple tribal communities upon request, for a total of 272 individual community members, providers, law enforcement and tribal court staff trained in the MHFA curriculum to date.

The MHFA training is part of a larger national initiative within the IHS OCPS/DBH to train Community Health Representatives (CHRs), other service providers and community members in mental health awareness, and skill building in prevention and early intervention.  The Albuquerque Area Division of Clinical Quality/Behavioral Health has also been an active participant with the National Council for Behavioral Health in an American Indian and Alaskan Native adaptation of the MHFA curriculum.  This effort is in collaboration with the University of New Mexico, OCPS/DBH; the Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center LLC., the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board, and others. 

Related content:

IHS Announces $3.2 Million in Grants for Zero Suicide Initiative

IHS Awards $16.5 Million in Grants to Support Behavioral Health Programs

Trauma Informed Care Provides Healing

IHS Explores Behavioral Health Aide Program Success in Anchorage

Behavioral Health Internship: From Rockville to Anchorage

Jennifer S. Nanez, Health System Specialist, Albuquerque Area, Indian Health Service
Jennifer S. Nanez, MSW, LMSW is a Health System Specialist, Acting Albuquerque Area Behavioral Health Consultant and MSPI/DVPI Project Officer.