Mental Health First Aid Training Fact Sheet

Training Fact Sheet


Our society has tried to link mental illness with violence for many years. In our research, we have concluded that the vast majority of people who are violent, do not suffer from mental illness. In fact, it has been reported that between 4-7.5% of acts of violence are committed by someone with a mental illness and often there was a presence of other risk factors, such as substance abuse, history of violence, juvenile detention, physical abuse and/or a recent stressor such as divorce, separation or losing a job (1). At Sandy Hook Promise, we do not support any broad statement or stigmatization that people with mental illness are violent, however, while the percentage of mentally ill involved in gun violence is low, the results can be catastrophic as seen in recent mass shootings.

There have also been statements that a majority of people with a mental illness die by suicide. Our research does not support these statements. In fact, a majority of people who experience mental illness do not die by suicide. However, it has been reported of those who do die from suicide, more than 90% have a diagnosable mental disorder. Many of these are experiencing undiagnosed, undertreated or untreated depression or other mental illness [Peterson et al.]

Imagine if more people were educated to know the signs and symptoms of mental illness. How many people could live a healthier life? How many tragedies could be prevented? How many lives would be saved?


Youth Mental Health First Aid™ (YMHFA) teaches adults how to identify and help youth who may be experiencing a mental health crisis and/or exhibiting at-risk behavior that could lead to a crisis.

YMHFA is an evidence based, research proven 8-hour course that helps identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and addictions in youth ages 12-18.


Adults who are in close contact with children and young people such as: parents, caretakers, educators, law enforcement, faith based leaders, college students, coaches and community leaders.


Children and young people 12-18 years of age. Training participants benefit as well. Research has shown that YMHFA training helps reduce mental health stigmas or the social distance created by negative attitudes and perceptions of individuals with mental illnesses.


Basic understanding of different mental illnesses and enablers to mental illnesses / lack of mental wellness such as:

  • Depression and mood disorders
  • Anxiety and substance use disorders
  • Trauma
  • Psychosis

YMHFA teaches about recovery and resiliency – the belief that individuals experiencing these challenges can get better and use their strengths to stay well.

Participants will learn YMHFA Action Plan:

  • Assess risk to self or others
  • Listen non-judgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

The YMHFA Action Plan is designed to be applied to a variety of situations, including when someone is experiencing:

  • Panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Non-suicidal self-injury
  • Acute psychosis (e.g., hallucinations or delusions)
  • Overdose or withdrawal from alcohol or drug use
  • Reaction to a traumatic event

The opportunity to practice – through role plays, scenarios, and activities – makes it easier to apply these skills in a real-life situation.



Sandy Hook Promise will work with individuals, schools and community-based organizations to offset up to 100% of the training cost in order to reach and impact as many lives as possible.