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Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT)


Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) prepares individuals and communities to respond appropriately and safely to persons with mental health challenges and or disorders, particularly those with serious mental illness (SMI) and/or serious emotional disturbances (SED).

As a result of MHAT, individuals receive the knowledge, skills, confidence, and resources to engage with someone experiencing mental health and/or substance use challenges. Individuals trained might use these skills and resources to help others access needed mental health care or other services from within their own families, places of employment, communities, or places of worship.

Mental Health Awareness Training is funded through the MHAT grant program. MHAT grant funds are awarded to eligible organizations who applied to a previously posted MHAT Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to implement evidence-based mental health awareness trainings. Please refer to for information on current SAMHSA grant Notice of Funding Opportunities.

To meet the unique needs of their communities, MHAT-awarded grantees implement various evidence-based/ evidence-informed curricula of their choice to train the mental health and related workforce, school/higher education systems, first responders, law enforcement, diverse human service organizations, and others who interface with youth and adults at risk for mental health and/or substance use challenges.

MHAT History

MHAT was born from Project AWARE which is a SAMHSA funded school mental health infrastructure building grant. Project AWARE was SAMHSA’s thoughtful response to both the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative and the Presidential Now is the Time plan. SAMHSA identified the expanded mental health awareness training needs across communities to meet the needs of youth and adults at risk for mental health and/or substance use challenges.

MHAT Award History

MHAT Successes 2018-2022

  • 163,289 individuals in the mental health and related workforce have been trained in mental health related practices and activities
  • 273,916 total individuals have been trained in prevention or mental health promotion
  • 370,389 individuals have been referred to mental health or related services
  • 77% of individuals have demonstrated improvement in knowledge/attitudes/beliefs related to prevention and/or mental health promotion

To Receive Mental Health Awareness Training

If you are interested in receiving mental health awareness training, please refer to Grant Awards by State to locate a SAMHSA MHAT grantee in your State/Territory to determine what trainings are being offered. Once you determine who has been awarded the MHAT grant please complete an online search to obtain that organization’s contact information so you can reach out and connect to their “MHAT Grant Project Director” to discuss their training opportunities. Training might also include the opportunity to become certified as an evidence-based curriculum instructor.

Grantee Spotlight/Impact Stories

We thank our grantees for their commitment and dedication to helping prepare individuals and communities to respond appropriately and safely to persons with mental health challenges and would like to acknowledge just a few stories from our grantee organizations which highlight how the Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) grant program has made an impact.

The MHAT grant has allowed the Children’s National Medical Center to increase the capacity of early childhood educators to recognize and respond to the social-emotional health needs of young children impacted by structural inequities. During COVID, they were able to pivot to meet the needs of the proximity experts (i.e., families and teachers). Centering the voices of families and teachers resulted in successful training outcomes.

"The training gave me more knowledge about social-emotional development and how we can help and understand our children better." – Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) participant.

The Upstream Prevention, Inc. MHAT grant started April 30, 2020, and targeted trainings around suicide prevention. By July 2023, more than 2,400 individuals were trained to become Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Gatekeepers. QPR is a suicide prevention training for participants to be able to recognize the warning signs of suicide and question, persuade, and refer people at risk for suicide for help. Many of the trained individuals were school staff and law enforcement, however, regular trainings open to the community also took place.

“I am grateful for the skills I acquired during the training. Soon after my son started college, I never anticipated needing to ask him if he was thinking about suicide, but I felt much more confident in helping him, due to the training.” – Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) participant.

Puerto Rico, a prime example of how climate change is disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable communities around the world has experienced back-to-back disasters, including devastating hurricanes, earthquakes, and the COVID-19 pandemic over the years. Mental health awareness training that is evidence-based and trauma-informed was lacking in the island. The team at the Medical University of South Carolina partnered with Albizu University, Mayaguez and the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus and was awarded a SAMHSA MHAT grant after Hurricane Maria in 2018.

The MHAT grant provided culturally and linguistically tailored mental health awareness training (MHAT) in Psychological First Aid (PFA), Trauma Informed Care, Suicide & Crisis Prevention and Response, and Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR) to over 6,700 psychology graduate students, supervisors, schoolteachers, school staff, parents and community mental health and allied professionals over the three years of the grant and one year of a no cost extension. More than 630 youth were identified and referred to mental health services. The grant developed a sustainable, long-term, comprehensive mental health awareness training program that can serve as a model for graduate training programs, schools, and communities to help meet the needs of disaster affected youth due to climate change.

“Our MHAT grant has really been a godsend for Puerto Rico. All our psychology students since 2018 have graduated with trauma-focused clinical training, particularly in disaster psychology. They are now practicing psychologists working in the field and training others after the multiple natural disasters that we have faced as a community. The words "trauma" "PFA" "SPR" are now staples in our public schools in the western region and are recognized by school authorities. The best reward that we have received from the MHAT grant has been feeling and knowing we are fully prepared to quickly respond in our communities and help our people, specifically the children and families of the island.” – Puerto Rico Site Director, Dr. Tania del Mar Rodriguez-Sanfiorenzo, Associate Professor at Albizu University Mayaguez.


Point of Contact:
Adam Wheeler, MPH, MCHES, Public Health Advisor,
Nancy Kelly, MS Ed, Mental Health Promotion Branch Chief,

Last Updated

Last Updated: 09/12/2023

Last Updated