Mental Health First Aid


The Community Foundation Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg College, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are partnering to launch Addressing Crisis Today in Tampa Bay (ACT-TB), which will expand current efforts to raise awareness of the prevalence of mental health issues in the community through offering FREE Mental Health First Aid training to staff of nonprofits, churches, and other public service agencies. This initiative aims to:

  • Address common mental health concerns.
  • Reduce stigma.
  • Teach strategies to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health or substance use challenges and offer support.
  • Offer self-help strategies for staying mentally well.


Train and empower an additional 3,375 key personnel in nonprofits, faith communities and other community settings to identify, understand and respond to signs of addictions and mental health challenges.

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Think of Mental Health First Aid as the CPR of mental health. It is a national certification through the National Council for Behavioral Health that is proven to be effective. Peer-reviewed studies show that individuals trained in the program:

  • Grow knowledge of signs, symptoms and risk factors of mental health challenges and addictions.
  • Can identify multiple types of professional and self-help resources for individuals with a mental health challenge or addiction.
  • Increase their confidence in and likelihood to help an individual in distress.
  • Show increased mental wellness themselves.

What does it cost?

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay is providing the training free of charge through St. Petersburg College to those who work in public service including:

  • Nonprofits
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Schools (K-12 or higher education)
  • First response (e.g., fire fighters, law enforcement, medical personnel, etc.)
  • Veteran’s organizations

Why is it needed?

Even before the pandemic and social unrest of 2020, we knew that mental illness was a serious issue in our community and all communities. Pre-2020 research shows that 1-in-6 adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness within a given year. A study released by the CDC in August 2020 found that 40 percent of U.S. adults (2 in every 5) are struggling with at least one serious mental health issue during the pandemic.

Those experiencing mental health conditions can be further impacted by stigma, which is caused by fear and a lack of understanding. It can lead to harassment, bullying, violence and discrimination, which can cause isolation, shame, and prevention of treatment for those experiencing mental illness.

Who can use Mental Health First Aid?

Anyone! Mental Health First Aid training is similar to CPR training. It helps people identify, understand and respond to someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge.

This training is available to organizations and individuals in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus counties.   

How does one become certified?

Mental Health First Aid certification is about an 8-hour training. With this training, participants complete a self-paced introduction to the material online that takes about two hours. The real-time virtual or in-person instruction, with between 10 and 30 people in the training class, takes around six hours in one day.

A private training of 10-30 participants can be coordinated at your organization by contacting the Project Coordinator at

Want to become Mental Health First Aid certified? Register online today.

For nonprofits, faith organizations, educators and other eligible public service professionals use discount code: MHFA


This program is being administered through St. Petersburg College (SPC). For more information or questions, please contact Joanna Corde, SPC’s ACT-TB Project Coordinator at or 727-341-3640. 


Disclaimer: This product was developed in part under grant number 1H79SM084729 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.

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