Mental Health First Aid

December 15, 2020

Today, more than 1,500 front line caregivers at Sanford Health have the skills to care for patients experiencing mental illness.

Since 2017, Sanford Health has offered Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental First Aid. The eight-hour courses gives caregivers the skills to understand and respond to someone developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.

Initially, the programs launched with the goal of training just 300 employees. That goal has since been far exceeded.

Today, Sanford is also extending training to community partners, such as fire fighters, police officers, first responders, educators and social service personnel, in addition to developing an internal mental health literacy curriculum for all employees.

This focus on mental health training is more important today than ever, as the COVID-19 pandemic takes a toll on the mental well-being of children and adults, with increased social isolation, stress and health and safety anxieties.

In the year ahead, philanthropy will help Sanford expand mental health training opportunities to employees and other community partners. Funds are already at work helping purchase state-of-the-art software, virtual programs, cameras and headphones to roll out new curriculum designed and led by Sanford experts.


The reality we’re working to change:

  • 10.7 percent of all U.S. adults have seriously considered suicide in the last 30 days. That is a higher number than patients diagnosed with diabetes.
  • 13.3 percent of all U.S. adults admitted that they have started, or increased use of, alcohol or illegal substances to cope with pandemic related stress or emotions.
  • 50 to 60 percent of all Americans with serious mental illness will never get treatment for their condition due to a combination of stigma, shortage of available mental health providers, lack of financial ability to pay for care, or having their condition go undetected by their primary care providers.


How to support the area of greatest need

Mental health training is an example of how gifts to support the area of greatest need allow Sanford to act nimbly and innovatively to meet important and emerging needs.

The Foundation’s board of directors carefully evaluates funding requests and oversees disbursement to ensure philanthropic dollars are used effectively and efficiently. The process works like this:

  • Any department or initiative at Sanford may submit a grant request that details plans to address a need.
  • The Foundation’s board of directors reviews and votes whether or not to approve funds.
  • Recipients must use funds within one year.
  • Upon completion of the project or program launch, recipients are asked to provide an update on the use and impact of funds.


100% stays local

Your gift to the area of greatest need today will stay local, giving Sanford leaders the flexibility and resources to support things like advanced training opportunities for staff and unique programs that are not in the budget, but still fill important needs.