Colts, AAPA Team Up on New Partnership to Improve Mental Health Treatment in Indiana

Initiative to provide Mental Health First Aid© training to 12 Indiana-based PAs, who will aim to train 2,000 additional Hoosiers

INDIANAPOLIS – The American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA) and the Indianapolis Colts are teaming up on a new initiative to improve mental health in Indiana. The partnership, announced today during AAPA’s 2022 national conference in Indianapolis, will provide evidence and skill-based Mental Health First Aid© training from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing to 12 Indiana-based PAs.

Mental Health First Aid© teaches how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health conditions and substance use disorders. PAs are in a unique position to help patients with mental illnesses because they often are the first point of contact for patients in primary care and other practices.

The Indiana cohort of PAs receiving training will include faculty members from Indiana-based PA programs, along with additional Indiana PAs who apply, for a total of 12 trainees. The faculty members will provide training to students in their programs and make training available to other healthcare professionals at their respective schools. The partnership aims to train at least 2,000 people in Indiana.

AAPA President and Chair of the Board Jennifer M. Orozco, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, said this new partnership with the Colts will provide much-needed resources to communities throughout Indiana.

“AAPA is eager and honored to launch this pilot program in Indiana with a partner like the Colts. They have demonstrated their leadership, in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health. AAPA, like the Colts, is committed to improving mental health and providing resources to patients and communities across the country. Our hope is that this training for PAs and community leaders can be replicated with other partners in all 50 states,” Orozco said. “With 400 million patient interactions each year, PAs across the country are in a unique and important position to prioritize mental health through screenings, treatment and management of each patient.”

The PA Foundation will administer the partnership. Since the PA Foundation began the Mental Health Outreach Fellowship in 2018, more than 2,800 individuals across the country have received Mental Health First Aid© training. This new opportunity with the Colts enables the program, and impact, to grow in Indiana specifically.

This partnership represents another piece of Kicking the Stigma, the Colts’ initiative to raise awareness about mental health disorders and remove the stigma associated with these illnesses.  The program also helps fund and support community-based initiatives in Indiana to improve mental health while kicking the stigma surrounding it. Since its launch, more than $16 million has been committed to expanding mental health treatment and research in Indiana and beyond.

“Kicking The Stigma encourages people to embrace the idea that it is okay not to be okay,” said Kalen Jackson, Colts Vice Chair & Owner. “The Colts, together with AAPA, look forward to providing potentially lifesaving mental health training that will directly impact the lives of Hoosiers across our state.”

The partnership was made possible by an $85,000 donation from the Colts and a $30,000 investment from AAPA. The Indiana Center for Recovery, a statewide program that treats patients with mental illness or substance use disorders, is also supporting the initiative with a grant. Together, the funds will cover the cost and coordination of the three-day training, including books and materials needed for the PAs to become certified mental health trainers and to present to audiences around the state of Indiana.


Media Contacts:
Jenni Roberson, 703.380.2764
Josh Birch, 443.614.5896

About the American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA)
AAPA is the national membership organization for all PAs (physician associates/physician assistants). PAs are licensed clinicians who practice medicine in every specialty and setting. Trusted, rigorously educated and trained healthcare professionals, PAs are dedicated to expanding access to care and transforming health and wellness through patient-centered, team-based medical practice. PA has been named one of the best jobs overall and one of the best healthcare jobs for the fifth year in a row by U.S. News & World Report. The PA profession ranked number three this year in Best STEM jobs. Learn more about the profession at and engage through FacebookLinkedInInstagram, and Twitter.

About the PA Foundation
The PA Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that promotes better health and wellness by providing PAs and PA students with philanthropic opportunities and resources. It is the philanthropic arm of the AAPA, representing a profession of approximately 150,000 PAs across all medical and surgical specialties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and the uniformed services.

About the Indianapolis Colts
The NFL’s Indianapolis Colts strive to entertain, inspire and unite fans and people throughout our city, our state and beyond by winning the right way. Off the field, the Colts are committed to improving the lives of our fellow Hoosiers by building a healthy, inclusive and compassionate community through meaningful outreach, projects and partnerships.  The Colts also support current and former players by engaging with them in charitable efforts, helping them leave a legacy of service to the community.

About Indiana Center For Recovery
Indiana Center For Recovery is a patient-centered substance use disorder and mental health treatment provider. They have been offering treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders in Bloomington since 2016, Mishawaka since 2022, and was awarded Newsweek’s “Best Addiction Treatment Center in Indiana” award in 2021. The company’s services include drug and alcohol detoxification, inpatient residential care, Partial Hospitalization Programs, Intensive Outpatient Programs, genetic testing, medication management, group therapy, family therapy, and individual therapy. It also provides primary mental health treatment at its Mishawaka location.