Center of Excellence awarded $500,000 to provide mental health training to local communities


The Marshall University Center of Excellence for Recovery was awarded $500,000 from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to develop and implement training on mental health and substance use disorder awareness in communities throughout the following West Virginian counties: Boone, Cabell, Clay, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, Mingo, Putnam and Wayne.

This project will expand its current training infrastructure to increase training on mental health and substance use disorders to school personnel; youth leaders in high schools and institutions of higher on education; law enforcement and other emergency first responders; veterans, military service members and their families; faith communities; and community coalition members on how to appropriately and safely identify, reach out and provide support to someone who may be developing or experiencing a mental health or substance use concern.

Some of the evidence-based training that will be offered will include Mental Health First Aid, suicide prevention and crisis intervention training. Training for first responders, law enforcement and others who respond to crisis situations will include how to employ de-escalation techniques, particularly with individuals experiencing Serious Mental Illness (SMI) and/or Serious Emotional Disease (SED).

Additionally, Marshall University will collaborate with community coalitions to provide “Train the Trainer” opportunities, when possible, to assist with sustainability of the training program and to support expanding the training to more remote and underserved areas.

Amy Saunders, managing director of the Center of Excellence, says it’s a great opportunity for Marshall University.

“Marshall University is excited to partner with our local and state coalitions and organizations to offer these training opportunities and resources to help make a difference in the lives of our community members,” Saunders said. “The more we equip our youth, faith-based members, first responders, school personnel, military members, veterans and others with the skills and tools needed to respond and support friends and family members who might be experiencing a mental health or substance use concern, the healthier our families and communities will be.”

SAMHSA will provide $125,000 each year following to support program sustainability.

Contact: Clark Davis, Senior University Relations Specialist, 304-696-3408,

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