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Published On: Tue, Aug 29th, 2023

Nearly $2 Million in State Funding Allocated for Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)

Funds will Allow Alpert Jewish Family Service to Expand Training Beyond Palm Beach County to Broward, Hillsborough, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and St. Lucie Counties

West Palm Beach, FL – Ferd & Gladys Alpert Jewish Family Service (Alpert JFS) announced today that Florida State Senator Lori Berman and State Representative Kim Berfield together secured $1,911,233 in funding for Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training in Florida.

MHFA teaches participants how to assist someone experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge or crisis. This training provides skills needed to reach out and provide initial support to someone developing a mental health or substance use challenge and help connect them to the appropriate care.

With nearly $2 million in new funding, Alpert JFS will expand its MHFA training to Broward, Hillsborough, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and St. Lucie counties. The agency is partnering with Goodman Jewish Family Services (Goodman JFS), Jewish Community Services of South Florida (JCS), and Direction for Living in Tampa to execute the expansion.

Alpert JFS originally introduced MHFA in Palm Beach County in 2014. Since then, Alpert JFS has enlisted over 80 trainers who have taught the program to over 10,000 community members. In 2021, Alpert JFS received a $100,000 grant from The Florida House of Representatives, specifically designated for MHFA, which has enabled the organization to train participants at no cost. Ideal participants include community members, police officers and first responders, employers and employees, teachers and school personnel, health care professionals, and caring individuals.

“After taking the course myself, I became convinced of its importance in breaking the stigma of mental illness and helping people who could be family, friends, neighbors, or maybe a stranger, at a time of need,” said State Senator and sponsor Lori Berman. “It’s really exciting that we were able to secure these funds and expand the training to 12,500 new people this coming year.”

“It’s incredible to be able to, along with Senator Berman, secure nearly $2 million to expand this impactful program to so many,” said State Representative and sponsor Kim Berfield. “I hope to see this program expand statewide and become as commonplace as CPR.”

In addition to the training component, MHFA also removes the fear and hesitation many feel about starting conversations about mental health or substance use. It does this by improving understanding and providing an action plan that teaches people to identify and address a potential issue safely and responsibly. MHFA teaches:

  • Risk factors and warning signs of mental health concerns. 
  • How to recognize depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis, and substance abuse.
  • A five-step action plan to help someone who is experiencing a mental health concern or is in crisis.
  • Available evidence-based professional, peer and self-help resources.

“Mental illness is far more common than most realize, with research showing that one in five adults suffer from mental health complications every single year. The unfortunate fact is that people with mental illnesses often suffer alone,” said Cindy Wides, Director of Community Outreach and Mental Health First Aid at Alpert JFS. “MHFA’s mission is to change this. Thanks to the support and advocacy of our Legislative Champions, Alpert JFS along with our partner agencies will be able to reach and respond to thousands of additional people experiencing a mental health crisis.”

About Alpert JFS

To sign up for a MHFA training or to learn more, please contact Cindy Wides at and 561-713-1851 or visit

Founded in 1974, Ferd & Gladys Alpert Jewish Family Service (Alpert JFS) is a nationally accredited service provider for children, adults, seniors, and Holocaust survivors. The non-profit, non-sectarian organization is a trusted leader, with a team of over 140 skilled professionals delivering high-quality care to nearly 12,000 people each year, from Boynton Beach to Vero Beach. Alpert JFS works to ensure the well-being of individuals and families, the independence of older adults, and quality-of-life for individuals with disabilities. For more information, visit or phone 561-684-1991.      

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