DBHDD receives federal Mental Health Awareness Training grant

December 17, 2018

ATLANTA—The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) received a Notice of Award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for the Mental Health Awareness Training Grant.  The project award is $125,000 annually for three years, running November 30, 2018 through November 29, 2021.

“One person, whether young or old, taking his or her own life is too many,” said Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald.  This grant will fuel our collective efforts to raise awareness, educate, train, and intervene so that Georgia will be at the forefront of national strategies to prevent tragic consequences.”

“DBHDD is proud to accept and excited to implement this award,” said Travis Fretwell, director of DBHDD’s Office of Behavioral Health Prevention.  “These funds will allow the suicide prevention program to expand training capacity statewide from urban to rural communities.”

The goal of the Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) Project is to help Georgia communities to reduce risks that may contribute to suicide attempts and/or death by suicide.

Objectives include the following:

  • Provide at least 20 evidence-based mental health awareness trainings across the state annually, targeting counties in DBHDD regions 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 that were identified in 2015 as having the highest rates of suicide deaths in Georgia.
  • Refer at-risk and vulnerable populations to participating community service boards (DBHDD’s safety-net providers). 
  • Train at least 600 individuals (average 200 per year) by the end of the three-year project in evidence-based trainings, such as Question-Persuade-Refer, adult and youth Mental Health First Aid, Assessing and Monitoring Suicide Risk, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, and SuicideTALK.  This objective includes training 50 trainers to help sustain mental health awareness training capacity after the grant ends.

Individuals targeted for MHAT will include those who can provide support to veterans, youth, and older adults.  Training participants will include behavioral health professionals, nurses, teachers, clergymen, community suicide prevention coalition members, caregivers, corrections staff, first responders, youth workers, school support staff, and veterans and family members of armed service members.

Trainings will be scheduled and implemented in the new year.

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL) for free and confidential help 24/7 at 800.715.4225.


Media Contact:
Angelyn Dionysatos
Press Secretary


All Other Inquiries Related to this Grant:
Walker Tisdale, MPH, MA, LMSW
Director of Suicide Prevention




The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) is the state agency that supports people with mental health needs, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Our vision is easy access to high-quality care that leads to a life of recovery and independence for the people we serve.  Judy Fitzgerald has served as commissioner of DBHDD since 2016.