Student Counseling Service Expands Mental Health/Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training

Knowing how to recognize and respond to someone in mental health distress is as important as knowing how to respond when someone has an urgent physical health concern. 

“Faculty and staff always have had an interest in helping their students cope with emotional distress," said Jennifer Young, Ph.D., assistant director for outreach and programming at the student counseling service (SCS). "But recently, as a result of COVID and other events, there has been a renewed interest in addressing the mental health needs of not only their students, but of their colleagues, families, and friends.” 

In response to this interest, SCS has expanded its gatekeeper training program for faculty and staff. “Gatekeepers” are people who have contact with individuals who may be at high-risk for suicide or emotional distress and who have knowledge about appropriate referral resources. Below is a listing of the various training programs offered at SCS:

Campus Assistance Program (CAP)

Through the CAP program, SCS staff are available to attend departmental faculty/staff meetings to present about mental health resources. Presentations typically last 60-90 minutes. The goals of CAP are to:

  • Educate and increase awareness of mental health issues among faculty, staff, and students. 
  • Raise awareness about how psychosocial struggles impact students’ academic performance, class attendance, health, and behavior.
  • Share strategies on how to reach out to students who feel isolated, marginalized, and are less likely to seek help for their distress.
  • Recommend how to offer and promote appropriate support services that best meet students’ needs. 

QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer)  

QPR is a suicide prevention and educational program on how to recognize a mental health emergency and get someone the help they need. During the 90-minute training, SCS staff teach three steps that help prevent suicide: Question, Persuade, and Refer. The program is free. Through QPR gatekeeper training, participants will:

  • Recognize the warning signs of suicide.
  • Learn how to offer and provide hope.
  • Learn how to provide help and save a life through Question, Persuade, and Refer skills.
  • Obtain resources available to help someone in crisis.

Mental Health First Aid Training - participants engage with each other in a classroom.Mental Health First Aid   

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour certification course that teaches how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges among adults. The training provides the skills to connect with and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis. Participants complete a 2-hour, self-paced online course prior to attending a 6-hour in-person, instructor-led training (skills application). There is a nominal fee for this course.

For more information about any of the gatekeeper training programs, please email Jennifer Young, Ph.D. ( or visit the Student Counseling Service website.