Attorney Mental Health Education Inc.

Attorney Mental Health Education, Inc., ("AMHE") was incorporated in 2018 to provide Mental Health First Aid ("MHFA") training primarily to attorneys, law firms, in-house legal departments, law students and governmental agencies.

Our mission is to destigmatize mental illness and to educate attorneys in MHFA. Hundreds of thousands of individuals have been trained in MHFA. Due to the recent interest in mental health education, the number of participants is growing rapidly.

AMHE's President, Joe Ankus, is a nationally certified MHFA instructor. He specializes in teaching MHFA to attorneys on a nationwide basis. Joe is an attorney and is not a therapist, clinician or mental health professional. MHFA is not used to diagnose, treat or counsel. Once trained in Joe’s eight hour class, a MHFA graduate has the basic tools necessary to be a potential bridge between someone who may be in crisis- before professional intervention- and to offer appropriate resources for self-help.

MHFA respects a person's right to autonomy and self-determination- while at the same time- provides an evidence based protocol to help when appropriate. MHFA encourages compassionate, non-judgmental listening and sharing professional resources as circumstances may require.

MHFA benefits everyone who takes it- and attorneys may well be called upon to use it for themselves, their colleagues, their co-workers, their clients, their friends and their families. The Florida Bar has, in the past, approved MHFA for 9.5 CLE credits.

The MHFA program is eight hours long- and, as per MHFA requirements- it cannot be shortened or lengthened. It can, however, be offered over a two day period of four hours per day if desired.

Length: 2 Hours

  • Introduce MHFA, the training and your role as a Mental Health First Aider
  • Give an overview of the prevalence and impact of mental health problems in the United States
  • Introduce the Mental Health First Aid Action Plan (called “ALGEE”) and how it fits within the array of interventions available to address mental health problems
  • Give an overview of the signs, symptoms and possible risk factors and warning signs of depression and anxiety

BREAK prior to starting Part 1: Session 2.
Length: 2 Hours

  • Demonstrate the MHFA Action Plan for someone who is experiencing depressive symptoms or anxiety and may be in a crisis such as suicide or self-injury
  • Explore how to respond to someone who is not in crisis but may benefit from the additional steps of LGEE
Length: 2 Hours

  • Review contents of Session One
  • Demonstrate the MHFA ALGEE Action Plan for people who are experiencing a panic attack and may be in crisis
  • Demonstrate the MHFA ALGEE Action Plan for people who are experiencing a traumatic event and may be in crisis
  • Give an overview of the risk factors and warning signs of psychotic disorders
  • Demonstrate the MHFA ALGEE Action Plan for people with symptoms of psychosis or in a related crisis

BREAK prior to starting Part 2: Session 2.
Length: 2 Hours

  • Give an overview of the risk factors and warning signs of substance use disorders
  • Demonstrate the MHFA ALGEE Action Plan for people with symptoms of a substance use disorder or related crisis
  • Synthesize everything that has been learned in a concluding activity
  • Complete the First Aider Exam
  • Complete the course evaluation

Joe Ankus’ MHFA mission is personal and professional.

He knows, firsthand, the pressures and stresses attorneys face on a daily basis. He has personally billed thousands of hours, worked on all-night projects, dealt with demanding clients, argued with irrational opposing counsel and truly understands the blessings and curses of the so-called “attorney lifestyle.” He is acutely aware of the high levels of anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder and suicide in our legal communities.

He has credibility and expertise to teach MHFA to attorneys because he is an attorney himself. He earned his JD, with honors, from the University of Florida. At UF, based on his academic performance, he was a member and Senior Editor of the Florida Law Review. He is also a member of the Florida Bar and a past member of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bars.

In addition, for over 25 years, as an Adjunct Professor at leading South Florida educational institutions, he has taught hundreds of professional and paraprofessional students a wide range of legal subjects- which has enhanced his presentation skills. Simply put, Joe loves to to teach and his students enjoy his straightforward and entertaining style.

Since 1991, Joe has been a legal recruiter for many of South Florida's most prominent law firms after having practiced with two AmLaw 100 firms- Dechert and Holland & Knight. Joe has successfully placed over 500 attorneys in his career and knows that his MHFA education correlates directly with his recruiting practice. He is nationally recognized among his peers and in the legal community about all aspects of legal recruiting, attorney retention and lateral hiring.

Most recently, he was selected to be a member of the Florida Bar's Special Committee on Mental Health & Wellness whose mandate- in part- was to offer solutions to educate Florida attorneys on mental health education. On the Special Committee, Joe worked closely with members of the Judiciary, Bar staff, a psychiatrist, and other passionate Florida attorneys in "moving the needle" to address the growing need for attorney mental health related education. After some discussion and research, Joe realized MHFA was a logical choice.

In his experience, he has seen first-hand the urgent need for an evidence based, concise and user-friendly format for basic mental health education. Attorneys, as a profession, are under significant stress, have competing demands for their time and are often untrained in fundamental mental health education. The Florida Bar, other state Bars and the ABA all point out that this educational gap needs to be addressed. Joe is confident that MHFA is one part of the multi-faceted solution. To this end, the earlier MHFA is taught, the better off we will all be.


Florida Mental Health & Wellness Resources

National Mental Health & Wellness Resources

Information Contained On This Webpage Is Current as of 1/24/18. Please use the Internet to verify as needed.

Joe Ankus

Founder and instructor of Attorney Mental Health Education Inc.

AMHE, Inc. Participant Acknowledgement

Please Read Carefully

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a course most relevant in situations where it becomes apparent that people in your social or professional network are developing serious mental health problems and it may also provide useful information on how to assist a person who has a history of a mental disorder or longer term-mental health problems. The training, while intensive, is interesting and challenging. Enjoy!

By participating in the Mental Health First Aid Training provided by Attorney Mental Health Education, Inc., you understand and agree that:

  • Your instructor is not a mental health professional, medical doctor, counselor or therapist and cannot provide any medical or psychological advice. Your instructor is certified by Mental Health First Aid USA. This course has been previously approved by the Florida Bar for 9.5 hours of CLE credit. You agree to direct all medical or professional questions to the appropriate licensed professionals when reasonably appropriate.
  • Your instructor is not providing any legal advice or any sharing attorney/client privilege with you or the class as part of Mental Health First Aid training. Please do not ask legal questions, share legal “fact patterns” or offer legal opinions during the course.
  • Mental Health First Aid does not teach you how to diagnose, cure, counsel or treat mental illness. Only a licensed professional has the training, experience and knowledge to provide such services. In any situation you may reasonably determine to be imminently life threatening to any person(s), you agree to call 911 for emergency help and/or contact other appropriate emergency resources- including law enforcement, medical or mental health professionals as you reasonably deem necessary.
  • You are prepared, emotionally and physically, to take Mental Health First Aid training.
  • You will keep all appropriate confidences shared and learned during the Mental Health First Aid training if participants share personal stories.
  • You can share personal information on a voluntary basis. If you share, please do not overshare. Identifying details about other people should be kept anonymous unless you have their express permission to discuss a particular situation with our group. Mental Health First Aid is not group therapy or a form of personal counseling in any manner.
  • You will review, read and keep for personal reference, your Mental Health First Aid training manual during and after our training.
  • You can take a break during training for any reason if you feel uncomfortable or need some time to reflect about the topics covered- including anxiety, depression, substance use, psychosis and suicide.
  • You will approach Mental Health First Aid with an open mind and willingness to consider viewpoints that may be different from your own.
  • You will do you part to help destigmatize mental illness and to reasonably use the Mental Health First Aid material to assist others who may be in need when you may deem it reasonably appropriate.