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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
May/June 2009, Volume 17, Number 3 

Gatekeeper Training: Syracuse Shares Hands-on Experience

Experiential Exercises

The train-the-trainer format gives trainees the experience of being a participant, since they complete the same kinds of activities they’ll eventually lead as trainers.

Ms. Pasco and her team conduct five or six different exercises with the trainees. “The most important one is role playing,” she said. “They play the student in crisis and other participants practice responding and interacting.”

Other exercises include “Personalizing Crisis,” where the people in the workshop reflect back on a time when they were in a crisis and share some of the emotions they had as well as some of the helpful and less than helpful things that people around them did.

“This exercise helps gatekeepers remember that being in crisis is a human experience, because you don’t want gatekeepers being very detached from the students that they’re trying to help,” Ms. Pasco explained. “You want them to have compassion and understanding.”

Followup Support

After the training is complete, SU is available to the new trainers to answer questions about their own gatekeeper training program. Typical topics include who will be the most appropriate gatekeepers on their campus.

In addition, Ms. Pasco said, SU staff talk about how they handle issues such as policies around mandated assessments for students who present with suicidal ideation, including how to get them into the counseling center. “We don’t address specific cases, but we help them think through their policies and protocols for responding to student emergencies,” she said.

According to Ms. Pasco, the key is that if a situation arises that involves suicidal thoughts or behavior, gatekeepers need to know who to contact to help figure out the best way to intervene. “Gatekeepers never should be the ones making those decisions on their own,” Ms Pasco emphasized. “That’s why it’s so important to have a system in place regarding how you’re going to handle when somebody does present with a suicidal crisis, because you don’t want to leave your gatekeepers alone out there.”

Find out more about SU’s Campus Connect program.

Previously in SAMHSA News

Suicide Prevention: New Media Increase Options

The Grahams: Commitment to Suicide Prevention, Mental Health

Substance Abuse & Suicide: White Paper Explores Connection

Preventing Suicide on College Campuses




President’s Budget

President’s Budget

FY2010 Budget sustains critical programs.


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   Protocols  
Addressing Suicidal Thoughts & Behaviors

Addressing Suicidal Thoughts & Behaviors

From CSAT, TIP 50 offers guidance to substance abuse counselors on how to help clients who may be in crisis.


  Medication-Assisted Treatment  
Buprenorphine: Guide for Nurses

Buprenorphine: Guide for Nurses

Specific guidance for nurses and nurse care managers.

Methadone Safety

Methadone Safety

Safe use of methadone, a medication for opioid addiction, is the focus of a new campaign.


  Data on Depression  
MDE and Youth

MDE and Youth

In 2007, 2 million adolescents had a major depressive episode.

MDE and Adults

More than 16 million adults struggle with depression.


  Focus on Children  
Mental Health Awareness Day

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Eight young people take center stage in a celebration of the arts as a way to cope with mental health problems. Photo Gallery.

Data on Children, Parents, Drugs

More than 8.3 million children lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused alcohol or drugs during the past year.


  Women’s Behavioral Health  
Mental Health Publications

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“Action Steps” for professionals and “What It Means To You” for consumers are available to order.

Pregnancy & Substance Abuse

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How much are alcohol and drugs used during pregnancy and after childbirth?


  Recovery Month  
20th Anniversary Includes TV Spots, PSAs

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With a few months to go, the Recovery Month Web site offers flyers, banners, and more.


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PRISM Awards

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Celebrating excellence in Hollywood. Photo Gallery.

ADDERALL® & College Students

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Full-time college students are twice as likely to use Adderall® nonmedically.

Real Warriors Campaign

Real Warriors Campaign

Helping service members break through stigma to ask for help.



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