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NH Delegation Announces Over $100,000 to Bolster Training & Access to NH Mental Health Services for First Responders

(Manchester, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) announced today that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) New Hampshire will receive $124,914 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to train law enforcement and first responders in New Hampshire to more effectively respond to individuals in a mental health crisis. The training is also intended to promote mental wellness for law enforcement and first responders in response to increased rates of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide.

“It’s past time that we treat the illnesses we can’t see with the same urgency as those we can, which is why I’m very pleased to see these federal dollars come back to New Hampshire to address mental health, particularly among our first responders,” said Senator Shaheen. “Increasing federal support for mental health grants has been a top priority for me as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and over the years I’ve worked to target more assistance for programs that help law enforcement and other first responders who experience significant trauma in the line of duty. These grants will invest in training so they can respond to crisis situations, and also provide access to the help they need to care for themselves. I’ll continue to push for more federal support for programs that prioritize mental health services in our communities.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how urgent it is that we strengthen access to mental health services -- and this is especially true for our first responders who have seen a tough job get even tougher,” said Senator Hassan. “It is welcome news to have this federal funding come to New Hampshire and support our first responders so that they can better work with those in crisis as well as provide the first responders themselves with the tools that they need to respond to the strain and pressures of the job. As Governor, and now as Senator, I have seen our police officers, fire fighters, and first responders step up to the plate time and time again -- their service and commitment to our community is tremendous, and we owe it to them to make sure that they have the resources necessary to respond to the crises and pressures that they encounter.”

“Our law enforcement and first responders go above and beyond to serve our communities and keep Granite Staters safe, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for many,” said Representative Kuster, founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force. “I’m pleased that this federal funding through SAMHSA will help ensure that they receive the mental health care and support they need. This funding will also help to provide training so that New Hampshire law enforcement and first responders are prepared to effectively and safely respond to incidents involving individuals in mental health crisis. I will continue working to ensure our communities have the mental health resources they need.”

“I’m pleased that New Hampshire will receive this funding to promote access to mental health services for first responders and train them on how to more effectively respond to situations involving individuals in crisis,” said Representative Chris Pappas. “As we grapple with increasing rates of depression and suicide, we must continue working to end the stigma around mental health and improve services for all who need it. I’ll continue to fight for additional mental health funding to make sure that Granite Staters are getting the support they need."

NAMI NH Executive Director Ken Norton stated, “NAMI NH is very excited to receive this five-year grant focused on improving the response of law enforcement and first responders to people in a mental health crisis. Training used will be the internationally recognized 40-hour Crisis Intervention (CIT) training and the evidenced-based Mental Health First Aid training for Public Safety. Both trainings also focus on promoting mental wellness for first responders, who have higher rates of depression, post-traumatic stress and suicide than the general population, factors that our federal delegation is aware of and have been working to address in Washington. NAMI NH looks forward to partnering with the NH Department of Safety, NH Police Standards and Training and municipal police and fire departments in accomplishing the goals of the grant.”

Senator Shaheen is a leader in the Senate on addressing mental health, and specifically, to prioritize suicide prevention measures to assist law enforcement and first responders. In the fiscal year (FY) 2021 funding legislation, Shaheen secured numerous provisions that address suicide prevention among first responders. Additionally, Senator Shaheen successfully added $8 million for the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act to this funding legislation that was signed into law, which includes grant funding for state and local law enforcement agencies to use for improved mental health services for officers, training to reduce the stigma of officers seeking help and programs to address handling repeated exposure to stress and trauma. Shaheen boosted this investment by $3 million over previous funding levels. In FY 2020 funding legislation, Shaheen included language directing the Department of Justice to – for the first time – collect data on law enforcement suicides and report on it.