In recognition of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, CONTACT We Care of Westfield and Morristown and SAGE Eldercare of Summit have announced they are offering Mental Health First Aid training Tuesday and Wednesday, June 24 and 25, 4:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Westfield at 170 Elm Street, Westfield, NJ. The training is ideal for first responders, educators, clergy, leaders of community groups and business professionals but also for families with members suffering from mental illness or mental health issues.

CONTACT We Care is a suicide prevention and crisis intervention hotline as well as a suicide prevention and Mental Health First Aid trainer. SAGE Eldercare provides programs and services for older adults and caregivers, promoting independence and quality of life, and Mental Health First Aid Training.

About 6 percent of American adults suffer from serious mental illness yet as many as one in four, or 26 percent, experiences some form of diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Mental illnesses can include mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder; and anxiety illness, such as panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress and social phobia. These are in addition to more serious mental illness as identified by the NIMH.

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“People all around us may be suffering from mental health issues, including our loved ones, co-workers or employees, members of our organizations and houses of worship or simply those in line next to us at the market,” said Joanne Oppelt, CONTACT executive director.

“Mental Health First Aid training is an excellent way for people – from first responders to parents – to help others who are in crisis. You are more likely to encounter someone, a friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor or member of the community, in an emotional or mental crisis than someone having a heart attack.” 

CONTACT’s Mental Health First Aid training is an eight-hour course that teaches participants how to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The training helps them identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

The course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to offer initial help. The course introduces participants to risk factors, warning signs and symptoms for a range of mental health problems; and builds understanding of the impact and prevalence of mental health problems.

Like CPR, Mental Health First Aid prepares participants to interact with a person in crisis and connect the person with help. Mental first aid providers do not take on the role of professionals – they do not diagnose or provide any counseling or therapy. Rather, the program offers concrete tools and answers key questions, such as “what do I do?” and “where can someone find help?”

Certified Mental Health First Aid instructors provide a list of community healthcare providers and national resources, support groups and online tools for mental health and addictions treatment and support. All trainees receive a program manual to compliment the course material.

Anyone interested in becoming a Mental Health First Aider should contact Sue Fasano, director of programs at CONTACT We Care, at 908.301.1899 or Onsite classes also can be arranged for groups.

For more information on Mental Health First Aid, visit 

CONTACT We Care serves Central and Northern New Jersey and is a primary responder to calls to the national suicide prevention line (1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE) that originate in New Jersey. Callers also reach CONTACT by dialing 908-232-2880 or texting “CWC” to 839863.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer listener or texter at CONTACT We Care should contact Sue Fasano at 908.301.1899 or

About CONTACT We Care

CONTACT We Care, headquartered in Westfield and with a listening hub in Morristown, is Central and Northern New Jersey’s crisis listening line, receiving more than 17,000 calls per year.  CONTACT brings comfort and hope to people in emotional distress through active, empathetic and nonjudgmental listening.  All calls are free, anonymous and confidential.  If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call our hotline at 908-232-2880.  We are affiliated with CONTACT USA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the American Association of Suicidology.  For general information about CONTACT We Care or to become a volunteer, call us at 908-301-1899 or visit our website at

About SAGE Eldercare

SAGE Eldercare is a unique community resource that offers a comprehensive array of programs and services for older adults and caregivers, promoting independence and quality of life.