Education & Outreach

Our mission to promote mental wellness through education and prevention aims to reduce stigma, direct individuals to appropriate community mental health resources, and encourage individuals to assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis. MHA educates the community about the importance of mental health and wellness, and hopes to improve perceptions and dispel myths about those who manage mental health disorders. Visit our Events Registration page to see the current workshops open to the public.  To achieve educational goals, our certified and trained professionals provide presentations such as the following evidenced-based best practices and other trainings:

Mental Health First Aid-USA

MHFAAdult Version: The Mental Health First Aid program is an interactive session which runs 8 hours. Mental Health First Aid certification must be renewed every three years, and introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments.

Specifically, participants learn the following:

  • The potential risk factors and warning signs for a range of mental health problems, including: depression, anxiety/trauma, psychosis, eating disorders, substance use disorders, and self-injury
  • An understanding of the prevalence of various mental health disorders in the U.S. and the need for reduced stigma in their communities
  • A 5-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources, and knowledge to assess the situation, to select and implement appropriate interventions, and to help the individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional care
  • The evidence-based professional, peer, social, and self-help resources available to help someone with a mental health problem.

Youth Version: Youth Mental Health First Aid is a public education program which introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and most importantly—teaches individuals how to help a youth in crisis or experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. Mental Health First Aid uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis and to select interventions and provide initial help, and connect young people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care.

Mental Health First Aid USA worked with experts at the National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health at the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development to adapt the Australian youth manual for US audiences. Mental Health First Aid USA is grateful for the support from the Child, Adolescent, and Family Branch at the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services in the development of the youth manual.

What Will Participants Learn?

The course teaches participants the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents, including anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders, AD/HD, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance use disorder. Participants do not learn to diagnose, nor how to provide any therapy or counseling—rather, participants learn a core five-step action plan to support an adolescent developing signs and symptoms of mental illness or in an emotional crisis:

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies


Both Mental Health First Aid and QPR Suicide Prevention Training are

Who Should Take the Course?

The course is designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents, but may also be appropriate for older adolescents (16 and older) so as to encourage youth peer-to-peer interaction. Anyone who regularly works or interacts with youth— teachers, athletic coaches, mentors, juvenile justice professionals—may find the course content useful. The core Mental Health First Aid course has been successfully offered to a variety of audiences including hospital staff, employers, and business leaders, faith communities, law enforcement, and the general public.

Note: Youth Mental Health First Aid is not specifically designed for parents of youth with mental health challenges. Although parents and families may find the course content useful, the course provides a basic level of information and guidance, rather than more in-depth information on navigating the healthcare system, which parents may wish to explore through the MHA ParentVOICE program.

Suicide Prevention

QPR® Question, Persuade, Refer - Gatekeeper

QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer—three simple steps that anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. Each year thousands of Americans, like you, are saying "Yes" to saving the life of a friend, colleague, sibling, or neighbor. QPR can be learned in our Gatekeeper course in as little as one hour.

In one-two hours, you can become a Gatekeeper.

According to the Surgeon General's National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (2001), a gatekeeper is someone in a position to recognize a crisis and the warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide. Gatekeepers include parents, friends, neighbors, teachers, ministers, doctors, nurses, office supervisors, squad leaders, foremen, police officers, advisors, caseworkers, firefighters, and many others who are strategically positioned to recognize and refer someone at risk of suicide.

As a QPR-trained Gatekeeper, you will learn to do the following:

  • recognize the warning signs of suicide
  • know how to offer hope
  • know how to get help and save a life

QPR Master Training: Train the Trainers Certification Course

This certification course trains Instructors to teach QPR for Suicide Prevention to their communities. Participants first learn about the nature of suicidal communications, what forms these communications take, and how they may be used as the stimulus for a QPR intervention. To gain perspective, participants are introduced to the history of suicide, and the spectrum of modern day public health suicide prevention education efforts. The history, background, and research support for QPR are reviewed. Participants then learn to market QPR, to target potential Gatekeepers, and how to teach the QPR curriculum. Participants also learn to deal with pent-up audience demand to talk about suicide, survivor issues, and how to make immediate interventions and referrals. Each participant has the opportunity for individual rehearsal and practice through role-plays.

Course Objectives:

  • To understand the nature, range, and importance of suicidal communications and their importance in preventing suicide.
  • To review and understand the groups at greatest risk of suicide and why QPR can work for them.
  • To train participants to teach QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention.
  • To gain a historical perspective about suicide prevention and how QPR fits into national efforts.
  • To acquire specific knowledge about how audiences may respond to the QPR message and how to react in a helpful manner.
  • To learn how to effectively promote suicide prevention in their own communities.
  • To gain the competence and confidence to teach others how to save lives and help prevent suicidal behaviors.

Course Content:

  • Suicide and suicide prevention in history
  • Gatekeeper training; how, why, and the research
  • New and promising approaches to suicide prevention
  • Targeting prevention education efforts
  • Review of the QPR video
  • Teaching QPR
  • Facilitating role plays
  • Handling questions from audiences
  • National and local resources and how to use them
  • Expanding QPR to other community prevention efforts
  • Completion of training evaluations
  • Orientation to the national QPR network and QPR Institute
  • Awarding of three year Instructor Certificates

Certification Program includes:

  • A full-day training course
  • A QPR Instructor's Manual
  • Detailed teaching information
  • QPR Instructor's Teaching DVD with suicidal communications vignettes, suicide statistics, QPR introductory video hosted by Carrie Fisher, PowerPoint slides for the core QPR Gatekeeper training, overhead masters for handouts
  • Audio CD of a QPR Gatekeeper training
  • 25 QPR booklets and QPR wallet cards
  • A copy of Tender Leaves of Hope booklet
  • Tool kit (continuously updated) with information on issues related to suicide
  • Two of Dr. Quinnett's books: Suicide: The Forever Decision and Counseling Suicidal People: A Therapy of Hope
  • Access to the Institute's toll-free number for consultations on QPR training
  • Periodic blast emails and brief Powerpoint presentations
  • QPR Times, a newsletter created for QPR Certified Gatekeeper Instructors

Advocacy Classes

As North Carolina's oldest and largest mental health advocacy organization, we design and deliver trainings through half-day or full-day workshops that encourage citizen engagement in the legislative process. These courses provide continuing education for Peer Support Specialists and are intended to empower individuals diagnosed with a mental health disorder to initiate regular contact with key elected officials. Caregivers, family members, and others (even professionals) who are interested in systems advocacy are also invited to participate in these trainings.

Coffee & Conversation

MHA leads monthly opportunities for dialogue to increase understanding and awareness about mental health, to ultimately break the stigma of seeking help when needed. Register  to join us for coffee and inspiration as an MHA volunteer Storyteller shares a message of hope and recovery.  If you have a small group you'd like us to bring a Coffee & Conversation to, please email [email protected].

De-escalation Training

An hour-long course designed to increase awareness about your role in tense situations, and how to de-escalate a crisis. This training is free and available as needed.

Managing Money in Recovery

An educational program designed for individuals in recovery of mental health and substance use disorders. This interactive course plainly describes creating a budget, maintaining a realistic budget, and adapting to changes within your income and expenses. Logs and expense records provide “hands-on” activities to engage individuals in this important step in their financial independence. The workshop is free and available upon group request.


MHA conducts other presentations and trainings as requested. Do you have a training need around advocacy, mental health disorders, treatment options, and community resources? Contact MHA.

Education Outreach