Chapter 19 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-
Section 26. (a) Subject to appropriation, within the department of mental health, there shall be a center for mental health first aid, in this section hereinafter referred to as the center. The center shall serve as a source for evidence-based mental health and trauma first aid training programs for residents of the commonwealth to educate individuals on how to support others who may be suffering from a mental health condition or trauma, reduce biases against mental illness and allow residents of the commonwealth to more comfortably engage with issues relative to trauma and mental health.
(b) The center shall be funded with revenue from appropriations or other money authorized by the general court and specifically credited to the center, and revenue from private sources including, but not limited to, grants, both state and federal, gifts and donations received by the commonwealth that are specifically credited to the center.
(c) The center shall establish an 8-hour training program that shall teach individuals to: (i) have a greater knowledge of the signs, symptoms and risk factors associated with mental illness, addiction and trauma; (ii) identify the characteristics of trauma’s impact across a lifetime; (iii) identify multiple types of professional and self-help resources for individuals with mental illness or addiction or those suffering from post-traumatic experiences; (iv) help individuals in distress become more confident about the help they provide; and (v) develop increased mental well-being themselves, and diminish any stigma and discomfort they have about mental illness and trauma. The center shall offer regional in-person and virtual training opportunities for individuals and organizations throughout the commonwealth as needed. The training program shall be free for any resident of the commonwealth and shall be offered in multiple languages, as determined by the center.
(d) The center shall publish an annual report including: (i) narrative and statistical information about training demand, delivery, cost and identified service gaps during the prior year; (ii) the effectiveness of the services delivered during the prior year; and (iii) which communities conducted in-person trainings during the prior year. The center shall submit the annual report not later than February 1 to the governor, the secretary of health and human services, the commissioner of mental health, the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate and the joint committee on mental health, substance abuse and recovery.
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