Mental Health Awareness Training Grant Opportunity

By Elyse Gentile | Posted on March 29, 2023

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Fast Facts

Grant Title & Opportunity Number: Mental Health Awareness Training Grant (MHAT), #SM-23-002*

Funding Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 

Eligibility: States and Territories, Political subdivisions of States**, Indian tribes or tribal organizations, Non-profit private entities 

Funds Available: $4,412,361 (approx. $200,000/yr. for 22 anticipated grants)

Application Deadline: May 1, 2023 

Why: Parks and recreation is vital to mental health and well-being. According to an NRPA Park Pulse survey, 93 percent of U.S. adults say that activities offered by local park and recreation professionals and their agencies are beneficial to their mental health. Park and recreation professionals also are often on the frontlines of our most pressing mental health-related issues, interacting with community members in a variety of community-based settings. With 1 in 5 U.S. adults and 1 in 6 U.S. youth (ages 6-17) suffering from some form of mental illness each year, it is imperative that park and recreation professionals are equipped with the tools and training needed to support community members with mental health and substance use disorders. 

*The Opportunity Number is unique to each grant and can help you search for the grant on

**Political subdivisions of States include cities and park districts.

Grant Summary

This grant's purpose is to train individuals and personnel to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders and de-escalate crisis situations. Additionally, these personnel will be able to educate their community members on the community-based and other relevant resources available for individuals with mental illnesses. This grant aims to support the development of secure, safe, and healthy relationships, to reinforce partnerships between law enforcement and their communities, and to increase public trust to enhance public safety. 

One way to prepare staff to support their community members is through Mental Health First Aid, a skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance-use issues and how to respond to a mental health crisis. 23 percent of park and recreation agencies report that they currently provide their staff with mental health first aid training and funding is available to help train even more professionals through mental health first aid and other interventions. Additional examples of how park and recreation agencies are training personnel and educating community members are below. 

Case Studies and Examples 

Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation offered its staff several trainings focusing on responding to the opioid epidemic and the first-ever public forum. The goal of this program focused on providing community members with substance use prevention, education and awareness training. To achieve this, Port St. Lucie Parks and Recreation partnered with their local park police and the not-for-profit mental health agency, New Horizons.  

West Allis-West Milwaukee Recreation & Community Services Department collaborated with the school district’s lead psychologist to provide mindfulness training for students involved in its before- and after-school care programs. This training began as a response to an increase in overdose-related deaths and documented reports of Narcan® administered by the West Allis Fire Department. Additionally, these park and recreation professionals, along with all school personnel, are trained in Trauma-Informed Care to ensure that all staff are able to best serve and provide local resources available to students in their care. 

Lexington Recreation and Community Programs Department partnered with other agencies from this Massachusetts town to create the Mental Health and Wellness Task Force. Through this task force, Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training was provided to approximately 200 individuals to recognize signs of crisis and reduce suicidal behaviors. Also, this task force identifies all in-town mental health initiatives and compiles them into one centralized resource for residents to access. 

Austin, Texas, and New York City Parks and Recreation Department Park Rangers have provided their personnel with Mental Health First Aid Training. This nationwide training initiative, born from a partnership between the Missouri Department of Mental Health and the National Council for Mental Health, provides all trainees with the tools to recognize and respond to mental health conditions. 

Grant Contact Information 

For program and eligibility questions contact:   

Shane Grant 
Center for Mental Health Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration  

For fiscal/budget questions contact:   

Office of Financial Resources, Division of Grants Management Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration  
Phone: (240) 276-1400  

For grant review process and application status questions contact:  

Tiffany Gray
Office of Financial Resources, Division of Grant Review Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration  
Phone: (240) 276-0541  

Sara Fleming  
Office of Financial Resources, Division of Grant Review Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration   
Phone: (240) 276-1693 

Additional Resources 

Elyse Gentile (she/her) is the executive branch specialist at NRPA.