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Identify. Understand. Respond.

The Mental Health First Aid Training Program is an 8-hour certification course designed to give participants the tools to respond to psychiatric emergencies until professional help arrives and improve mental health literacy.

Please note: Class size is limited. If you need to cancel or reschedule your registration, please contact our administrative team at

Mental Health First Aid: What We Do


Teaching the Skills to Respond to Signs of Mental Illness & Substance Use

Who can participate?

Family members of those with a mental illness diagnosis, teachers, employers, educators, human resource professionals, private businesses, and many more.

Specialized courses

Specialized classes for: teens, adults, older adults, adults working with youth, law enforcement, veterans, faith-based, family members of those diagnosed with a mental illness, higher education. Classes are also available in Spanish.

Who is not eligible? 

Not eligible for Licensed Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, or Licensed Clinical Counselors.

Interested in hosting a training?

If you are interested in having a private training for your staff at your location, please call 619-543-0412, Option 2 or dial ext. 113 to speak to the Program Coordinator directly. Please note you must have at least 10 participants. Not eligible for Licensed Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, or Licensed Clinical Counselors.

Need to cancel your registration or have a question?

Class size is limited! If you need to cancel or reschedule your registration, please contact our administrative team at

Mental Health First Aid: What We Do

Brian LaPolla

Program Manager

Brian joined Mental Health of America in 2023 and is a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and communication from the University of Maryland. Brian has worked with for non-profit organizations in Florida and California servicing the homeless population, worked for Kaiser Permanente and UCSD Health, and worked for the County of San Diego on their local COVID-19 crisis team starting as a staff member and eventually promoted to Operations Leads of a specialized unit. Brian is also TEFL certified (Teach English as a Foreign/Secondary Language) and has taught adult Spanish speakers and to students in Beijing, China. In his free time, Brian prides himself as an avid gamer, scuba diver, international traveler, and foodie – checking out the best spots to eat through San Diego.

Racquel Morrison

Program Coordinator

Racquel serves as Program Coordinator for Mental Health First Aid, a program of Mental Health America of San Diego County. She has been with MHASD for almost 12 years, providing trainings regarding mental wellness to individuals of various backgrounds. An avid world traveler, she loves to learn about different cultures, spirituality and history. Her retirement dream is to one day live on an island, and run a bed and breakfast, with her four-legged family members.

Carrie Christie


Carrie has been a Mental Health First Aid Instructor since 2015. She loves that she gets to provide educational trainings to San Diegans ensuring everyone, regardless of zip code, has access to care. Carrie knows that her trainings are powerful experiences that can catapult people towards that ‘light bulb’ moment in life. She believes that these moments can cause ripples in the communities she serves. Carrie has been awarded and recognized as one of the top MHFA trainers in the Nation by Mental Health First Aid USA and the National Council for Behavioral Health! Outside of work, she spends her time art making and bringing creativity into everything she does! She also enjoys DIY landscaping projects with succulents, cactus, and rocks. She loves her family (pets included) and community. And she likes tacos!

Tony Ewing


Tony is a certified Instructor teaching Mental Health First Aid to the general Community, Law Enforcement, Fire/EMS First Responders, Higher Education, and the Military/Veterans. Additionally, he teaches criminal justice courses as a consultant to various law enforcement agencies; and he is an adjunct instructor at San Diego State University’s College of Extended Studies. Tony is a United States Army veteran, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University-Sacramento (1993); a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Kaplan/Purdue University (2015), and in progress with his doctoral studies in Psychology at Northcentral University. He is also retired from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation where he was employed as a correctional officer and parole agent. In regard to Tony’s self-care he is a practitioner of both Tai Chi and Krav Maga martial arts, and he likes to cook.

Dallely Castillo


Bio to come!

Nancy Machuca


Nancy is a certified Mental Health First Aid Bilingual Instructor to the general Community and Higher Education. She has a long history of facilitating training through her role as an International Facilitator at CADCA International Program. She facilitated training and provided technical assistance - equipping local communities with the necessary tools to create safe, healthy and drug-free communities in México and Colombia (2012-1016).  Nancy holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Psychotherapy for Children and Adolescents in México. Nancy loves to travel and spend time with her daughter, family and friends. She also enjoys reading, dancing, listening to music, and going to the spa.

Mental Health First Aid: Meet the Team

"We have over 300 employees and this course proved so beneficial for our company. The information is vital and certainly ensures we are prepared to handle many situations in the appropriate manner."

- Dan E.

Mental Health First Aid: Quote
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