Mental Health Awareness Training

Howard University School of Social Work works to improve awareness and responses to mental health needs and suicide prevention through Mental Health First Aid training and more.

Howard University School of Social Work maintains a commitment to increasing Mental Health Awareness on Howard's campus and beyond through a variety of initiatives. Since 2018, the Howard University School of Social Work has been working hard to implement a Mental Health Awareness and Training program. This endeavor was funded through a 3-year award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The final progress report is available in its entirety here: 

Highlights of the project include: 

  • Provided training to 50% of HUSSW MSW students
  • Conducted training with over 20 organizations and academic units
  • Held 99 training events with mental health awareness focus
  • Provided training for over 3,000 participants
  • Identified new training partners for suicide prevention grant
  • Developed culturally relevant training for African American during Covid-19 pandemic, including a monograph

Key staff working on this project included Dean Sandra Edmonds Crewe (Project Director), Dr. JaNeen Cross (Co-Principal Investigator), Ms. Cheryl Spann (Training Coordinator), and Ms. Dana Hector (Director of Sponsored Programs). 

The first program goal was to implement the evidenced-based Mental Health First Aid awareness program. We were fully successful in implementing the program across multiple University departments. MHFA has been delivered to 6 units at the university, including the School of Social Work, School of Business, Residence Life, Department of Public Safety, and Office of the Provost. All these programs requested repeat programs for future MHFA training. The program was also successful in delivering MHFA and Mental Health Awareness webinars to HU-Residence Life and HU-Public Safety. 

In addition to offering those trainings, HUSSW was able to develop an electronic referral toolkit, available via QR code, which training participants can share with students in need of Suicide Prevention resources and other mental health tools. The School of Social Work also designed and delivered a culturally relevant MHAT webinar to various organizations.

Program staff worked tirelessly to develop new, innovative ways to meet the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic with regard to delivering relevant and effective training programs. Through developing alternative information-sharing tools such as webinars and the Racism and Mental Health Monograph, we were able to share information despite students and many staff members being off-campus for a great deal of the grant period.

One such webinar was the Playback Theatre Townhall Experience -- a 2-hour session in which participants engaged in an interactive and improvisational form of theatre called Playback Theatre. This Experience features a 60-minute performance by an international theatre company. During the show, a person from the group tells a true, personal story, then chooses from a variety of professional performers to replay the experience. The conductor guides the “teller’” through this innovative storytelling process. It specifically addresses mental health during Covid-19 pandemic. Through creative innovations such as this, HUSSW was able to deliver top-quality training experiences despite a global pandemic. 

Stay tuned for more information regarding HUSSW's fight to increase Mental Health Awareness through advocacy, training, and more.