Nearly one-quarter of adults in the United States suffer from a documented mental disorder. Consequently, anyone could encounter a person with symptoms of mental illness at some point as they carry out their daily life activities. Although laypersons may accurately identify physical illnesses, they may lack necessary skills to identify symptoms of mental disorders, or know how to adequately respond to persons in a mental health crisis. Mental Health First Aid USA is an evidence-based certification program designed to teach lay citizens to recognize certain symptoms of common mental illnesses, offer and provide first aid assistance, and guide a person toward appropriate services and other support. The program targets a broad audience, from teachers, police officers, clergy members, and healthcare professionals to the average citizen volunteer. This practice note describes a pilot implementation of Mental Health First Aid USA by a social worker at a rural hospital in Central California. The process and results of program implementation are discussed as well as implications for social work practice in rural healthcare settings.

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