NH DHHS - NH Launches Training to Improve Response to Individuals in Distress

First Group of 30 Receive Certification as Mental Health

First Aid Instructors

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

(DHHS), Bureau of Behavioral Health (BBH) has launched a training that will

provide valuable skills to potential first responders and community members

in how to help individuals experiencing mental illness or addiction

disorders. The Training, called Mental Health First Aid, is funded through

DHHS’ Balancing Incentive Program (BIP) and is a collaborative effort

between DHHS and the NH Community Behavioral Health Association.

“There is no issue that crosses sectors and boundaries in the way that

Mental Illness does,” said DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. “This

Training program will help develop new skills at the local level. We view

this as an integral part of a revitalized continuum of care in our service

delivery systems addressing the needs of individuals facing mental health


Thirty people from across the State were certified as mental health first

aid instructors. These instructors will be required to share their

knowledge and skills within their community, and must provide 3 trainings

within a year to remain certified.

“The Goal is to get these skills out in the community where they are most

needed,” said Nanci Collica, one of the first certified Mental Health First

Aid Trainers in New Hampshire. “My own son has had many experiences where

we could have used someone who knew better what to do. The fact that these

skills can be applied anytime, anywhere, by anyone is what makes them so


The training offers evidence based instruction on identifying symptoms of

mental illness and substance disorders, de-escalating crisis and connecting

individuals to resources in their community. “It’s fun, simple, yet

provides great tools for handling a situation where someone is in crisis”

says Collica.

The Balancing Incentive Program is an award through the Centers of Medicaid

and Medicare Services. The purpose of this program is to increase access to

and use of long-term care services and supports in community settings. In

partnership with community organizations throughout the state, these

services and supports will allow more people to remain in their homes and

communities rather than in nursing homes.