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Evaluation of Mental Health First Aid in New York City

More than 155,000 New Yorkers were trained in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) between 2016 and 2020. Free citywide trainings were made available to all New Yorkers and were disseminated through city agencies and community-based settings. RAND Corporation researchers conducted a mixed-methods study that included a web-based survey of past trainees and a series of focus groups with leaders of community-based organizations and city agency staff to assess the impact of the MHFA trainings and needs for future training. In this report, the authors describe the evaluation activities that took place; the methods behind them; and the results at the individual, agency, and community levels. They also offer recommendations for ways to improve future mental health education efforts.

Respondents applied MHFA skills extensively and broadly across their social networks. Nine in ten respondents had contact with an individual with a mental health problem in the past six months. Among those who had contact, 84 percent indicated using their MHFA skills to help a friend or family member, and nearly half reported applying skills with a co-worker, neighbor, or acquaintance. Because MHFA was offered through city agency workplaces and community-based settings, tens of thousands of New Yorkers were given tools to come to the aid of individuals in their personal and professional lives. MHFA may be a promising approach to building supportive social networks, organizations, and communities that are primed to recognize and assist those experiencing mental health challenges.




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