Mental Health First Aid

Adult Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an evidence-based training program administered by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing that teaches participants how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges in others.
Mental Health First Aid Trainings help participants to develop and apply interpersonal skills and action-steps that provide initial help and support to adults who may be developing a mental health or substance use challenge or experiencing a mental health crisis. Additionally, Mental Health First Aid instructors are able to differentiate core-content to meet the needs of specific communities such as faith-based organizations, adolescents, and teens.
Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders.

Why Mental Health Matters

1 in 5

One in five American adults experience a mental health disorder in a year.


Almost half of all American adults will experience a mental illness during the course of their lifetime.


More than 20 million Americans ages 12 and older will face an addiction.

Additional MHFA Information Flyers

Request a Training for Your Business or Organization

No Wrong Door, through the Mental Health Awareness Training Grant (MHAT), is providing a valuable opportunity for Newport County businesses and organizations. Free Mental Health First Aid Trainings are being offered to increase employees’ understanding of how to respond to mental health and/or substance use challenges. This training is especially valuable for businesses or organizations that work with the public. To schedule a Mental Health First Aid Training, simply submit the form below and a trainer will reach out to you. Take advantage of this opportunity to support mental health and well-being in your workplace.

Office Address:
300 High Point Ave., Portsmouth, RI 02871

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 173, Adamsville, RI 02801
Phone: 1.401.835.5311

Sean Palumbo

Sean Palumbo has been involved in the prevention field since 2013 as a student member of the Kickemuit Middle School STAAND (Students Taking Action Against Negative Decisions) club. Since then, Sean has been an avid advocate with American Lung Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Rhode Island Department of Health, advocating and educating in various fields that include but are not limited to traffic safety, tobacco-control and alcohol / drug awareness and prevention. 

Sean was born and raised in Bristol, Rhode Island and a graduate of Mt. Hope High School. Shortly after graduating from MHHS, Sean obtained his Associate Prevention Specialist certification and began working with the East Bay Regional Coalition as their youth council coordinator, recruiting and educating youth ages 12-18 on various prevention topics and encouraging them to advocate to their peers to make safe choices around substances. In September 2022, he took over the State Opioid Response grant for the East Bay region in addition to coordinating the youth council. 

Meanwhile, outside of the prevention field, Sean focuses most of his free time to the Bristol Fire Department’s Division of EMS and the Defiance Hose Co. 1. Serving his hometown as a first responder with the div. of EMS since Jul. 2021 and a    Firefighter II with the Defiance company since Jan. 2022.

Gregory Thompson

Gregory Thompson is a dynamic and results-driven professional with a knack for orchestrating grants with a twist. With an innate talent for fostering innovation and divergent problem solving, Greg brings a refreshing approach to coordinating grants, making the process not just efficient but also impactful.

His exceptional ability to cultivate and secure resources is nothing short of remarkable. Beyond his professional prowess, Greg’s role as a devoted parent fuels his unwavering commitment to championing substance use prevention, reminding him daily of the importance of his work. His dedication, coupled with his unique flair for program development, transforms ideas into tangible solutions, leaving a lasting imprint on the communities he serves. Greg is your go to partner for turning visionary projects into reality.

Rebecca Elwell, M.A., CPSS

Rebecca holds a Master of Arts in Counseling and Educational Psychology and an Advance Prevention Specialist Certification with 24 years of community substance misuse prevention experience. Rebecca is a founding member of the Ocean State Prevention Alliance an organization that addressed the unintended consequences of marijuana laws using scientific research and public health approaches. Rebecca is the founder of Strategic Prevention Partnerships, a non-profit organization based in Newport County, that promotes community health and well-being through action, education, support and collaboration.

Rebecca loves collaborating with community partners to find innovative ways to support Newport County residents. She believes that the solution to every community problem can be found within the community! For Rebecca, the excitement comes from pairing evidence-based strategies with a grass-roots philosophy to achieve success. Rebecca is frequently requested to provide expert testimony on legislation impacting substance use and behavioral health.

Along with community behavioral health partners across Newport County, Rebecca was a founding member and facilitator of the Newport County Behavioral Health System of Care, known locally as No Wrong Door. NWD is an inter-agency behavioral health initiative that coordinates timely, high-quality, cost-effective, evidence-based mental health and substance use care to individuals and families in Newport County. No Wrong Door seeks to meet the challenges of individuals and families with behavioral health needs and ensures that those at risk are identified and connected to appropriate care and services.

Rebecca, a lifelong resident of Little Compton, has two adult children (her pride) and a beloved grandson (her joy). Before work each day, Rebecca is greeted by five small goats and six chickens eagerly awaiting their breakfast.  An avid traveler, Rebecca has not been everywhere, but it is on her list!

Carol Dowling

Carol has experience and a deep understanding of the assistance that unhoused and substance abusing individuals need. She brings along with her, experiences from the San Francisco, New York City, and Los Angeles unhoused communities and understands what is necessary to assist the people of the Newport community. Past experiences include being employed by the Providence Center, Fuller Hospital, Adcare, as well as many agencies in the Bay Area of San Francisco. These experiences will help round out her competencies for her current intern position.

Coming back to Rhode Island, Carol was a volunteer for Hope Recovery, advocate for the Newport and Middletown unhoused and the Shower to Empower initiative. She has helped bring awareness to public officials in Providence at the State House for the shower initiative and facilitates NAMI meetings in the area. She took the peer support specialist class and is interning for the Newport Prevention Coalition, becoming certified sometime in 2024. Carol believes it is an honor to be accepted into the Strategic Prevention Partnerships as an intern.

Carol loves the companionship of her certified emotional support dog, Billy, a 14 lb. blonde female Chihuahua.

Hakim R. Coggins

Hakim has been part of the SPP family since December 2021. As No Wrong Door’s Community Engagement Specialist, Hakim’s primary focus is outreach to community members throughout Newport County to address behavioral healthcare barriers.  Hakim combines compassion, knowledge and a “get it done” approach which ensures action and accomplishment.

In 2023, Hakim launched SPP’s Fresh Fit initiative, in which he partners with Planet Fitness to provide access to daily showers and physical exercise for our community’s unhoused population. Hakim is also an active participant in Laundry Love, another community resource, allowing access to free laundromat services for our residents.

Hakim sits on the Board of Directors for Sankofa Community Connection, a local organization that uplifts our community’s Black voices. As well as a co-facilitator for Turning Around Ministries PASS program. The PASS program is a navigation network for community residents to gain life skills and resources to excel in life.

Hakim’s original focus at SPP was working with the youth of Newport and helping them stay on the path of a substance free lifestyle. Among his accomplishments, Hakim partnered with Newport Public Schools to install vape detectors in Newport’s middle and high schools; earned a certification in Catch My Breath, a diversion program that encourages kids to stay away from tobacco; and served as a Heart Club co-leader. In February 2023, Hakim graduated from the year-long National Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America Academy in Washington, DC.

Hakim enjoys reading, writing screenplays, immersing himself in his faith and spending time with his family in spare moments. Hakim’s ambitions are to earn his degree in Organizational Leadership, continue helping the community’s most vulnerable populations and one day open his own non-profit organization to further his reach and impact.

Bridget Manning

Bridget is the mental health promotion coordinator for Strategic Prevention Partnership’s No Wrong Door behavioral health initiative. Bridget’s professional goal is to educate others regarding mental health and substance use disorders in an effort to decrease stigma and increase public awareness regarding recovery. To accomplish these endeavors, Bridget has obtained her Mental Health First Aid instructor certification, with a focus on youth-based skills and teaches the course content for a variety of audiences. Additionally, she is utilizing the Campaign to Change Direction to increase public awareness concerning the importance of prioritizing mental health — especially for young people.

Before joining Newport County Prevention Coalition in September of 2022, Bridget taught eighth grade English in Massachusetts for seventeen years. Her time in the classroom emphasized an increased need for prevention education tailored to adolescents, and Bridget decided to refocus her efforts back home here in Newport County.

A product of Tiverton Public Schools, Bridget earned her bachelor’s degree in English Literature with a concentration in Secondary Education from Boston College and went on to complete a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Bridgewater State University. She is currently working on a substance use counseling certification and is eager to show others that recovery is possible for them.

Bridget lives in Portsmouth and loves the Rhode Island beach life but appreciates international travel and experiencing new cultures when she can. If she isn’t working or traveling, Bridget can be found in the gym where she enjoys weight-lifting and yoga.

Bridget Santos

In her role as the No Wrong Door Coordinator, Bridget Santos collaborates closely with behavioral health providers and actively engages with residents who have lived experience to pinpoint and address the obstacles our community encounters when seeking mental health treatment.

Bridget initially pursued a marketing major, but she has since charted a new path, currently pursuing her CADC license to become a Substance Use Counselor. Her passion lies in assisting individuals on their journey to recovery, ensuring they have access to the most suitable care for their unique needs.

Throughout Newport County, Bridget has organized several community listening sessions, fostering an environment for candid discussions about pressing issues. Through these hundreds of dialogues, Bridget diligently seeks to comprehend the distinct barriers and, more importantly, devise effective solutions to surmount them. Driven by her personal experiences with mental health and her deep community roots, Bridget aspires to be more than just a coordinator; she aspires to be an advocate for positive change throughout her community.

Bridget’s commitment to learning from the community and her drive to create innovative strategies are at the core of her approach. She’s always seeking new ways to meet the diverse needs of the community she serves. When she’s not working, you can find Bridget spending quality time with her cat Stella, playing video games, or enjoying time with her family.

Kathleen Brughelli

Kathleen’s role is to create and manage initiatives to educate and raise awareness of the dangers of opiates for people of all ages. Her innovative approaches to opiate education programs come from a creative perspective which encourages people to fully engage with the topic. 

Kathleen holds a BS from Russell Sage College and an MS from Northeastern University.

Cleo Allen

Cleo is a URI alum and dedicated adventurer with a deep passion for creativity. Born and raised in Little Compton and a graduate of Portsmouth High School, Cleo has returned to the community to promote wellness and harm reduction through education.

Brian Gough

Brian has been in New England for over 35 years, with 20+ years living in Tiverton, RI. He has a Master’s Degree in Student Personnel Administration and early in his career he worked at Keene State College, and Roger Williams University in residential community development, new student orientation, and volunteer programming. He understands from his time working with students the importance for all of us in finding a connection within the work we do, the places we live, and friends and family with whom we spend our time. The ability to “affiliate” gives us purpose and meaning.

After leaving higher education, Brian worked at American Power Conversion (APC)/Schneider Electric in West Kingston, RI. As a human resource business partner and leader he worked with a wide range of employees across the globe. He traveled extensively with APC and then with Schneider Electric who acquired the company at a critical point it it’s growth. He managed teams and supported employees in over 20 countries, learning a great deal about communication and the importance of understanding the cultural background of those you are trying to help.

After a short-lived early retirement, Brian has joined the Tiverton & Little Compton Prevention Coalition as the Coordinator. He is actively involved in the local community and has been building relationships throughout the region while continuing the work done to build the Coalitions.

Amy Cicilline Lynch

Amy brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to this position. She has always been interested in helping others. Through her work and her personal life, she has demonstrated a genuine concern and commitment in seeing that people are treated with dignity and respect and are given equal opportunity to succeed.

Amy was born and raised in Newport, RI. She attended Newport Public Schools and is both a graduate of Rogers High School and Rhode Island College, where she majored in Communications.

Prior to NCPC, Amy was the Executive Assistant to Executive Management at Newport Mental Health, where she provided a range of services that included administrative assistance to members of the executive management team, support to Board of Directors, coordinating fundraising events, cultivating and enhancing relationships with sister community agencies, processing of donations, grants, and civic appropriations, managing contracts, and advancing the image of the organization in the community.

Amy is truly dedicated to helping people, especially youth, as they deal with all the challenges that go with substance use and abuse. She is keenly aware of the pressures facing this generation and knows that it’s extremely important to provide support and programs that help our young people navigate these potentially troubling waters. She is both a self-starter, displaying initiative when the situation warrants it, and a team player who is always ready to coordinate efforts with others to make our community a better place.

Lori Verderosa

Lori Verderosa is the Director of the Middletown Prevention Coalition and has been at the helm since 2007. Lori has a Master’s Degree in Human Development with a specialization in Holistic Counseling and a post graduate CAGS. She is an Advanced Prevention Specialist (APS) and has been working in the substance use prevention field for 38 years.

Lori has also worked as a national training consultant for the Discovery Channel in Maryland, Comprehensive Health Education Foundation in Seattle and United Learning in Chicago providing professional development workshops for health education curricula for school districts, state departments of education and parent groups across the country. These various prevention curricula targeted substance use, violence/bullying, HIV and tobacco prevention and Natural Helper retreats for students.

Lori was an adjunct faculty member in the education department at Salve Regina University for many years where she taught a course “Teaching Drug Prevention and Intervention in the Classroom”. 

Additionally, Lori is a clinician in private practice here on Aquidneck Island. She is an LCDP (Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional) and is a Certified Hypnotherapist (CHT) where she specializes in substance use disorders and other behavioral health issues.

She loves dogs and has been volunteering for many years with the Potter League in many different capacities such as board member, capital campaign committee member and facilitator for their pet bereavement group. She has designed their pet loss group and has been facilitating the group for 30 plus years.

In her spare time, Lori can be found in her gardens where she finds peace and contentment. She loves nature and enjoys kayaking and taking long walks on the beach or Sachuest Point.

Polly Allen, CPS

Polly Allen started her prevention career in 2014 as the part-time Coordinator of the Little Compton Prevention Coalition. Prior to that, she was a work from home mother of four, keeping track of their farm animals and picking heirloom tomatoes. When her youngest child was in middle school, Polly was encouraged to apply for the prevention role, the job and the timing seemed like a perfect fit. A couple years later, Tiverton Prevention Coalition was looking for a Youth Coordinator, also part time, so the two roles were combined and Polly became a full-time prevention specialist.

In 2022, Polly was promoted to Director of Prevention for the Newport County Prevention Coalition.  Polly pairs her years of prevention experience with her dedication to Newport County to bring about positive change and well- being to Newport County families. Polly along with co-host Greg Thompson hosts the weekly Totally Preventable Podcast, found where ever podcasts are available. Additionally, Polly provides Narcan training and Hidden in Plain Sight presentations for the county.