Department of Family and Community Medicine

Mental Health Awareness Trainings


Mental Health & Social Services Resource Manual


Download our mental health and social services resource manual for Greater Houston, including online support and information.

Download Resource Manual

About Aware-Houston


A big thank you to the Greater Houston Community for allowing us to train on the important topic of Mental Health Awareness. We had a total of 2,212 attendees during our various trainings between the summer of 2020 and April 29, 2023. Despite of, or perhaps because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to reach the general public, first responders, college students, medical residents, physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals, behavioral health professionals, school counselors, and probation officers. Our trainings covered topics such as common mental health concerns, adverse childhood experiences, domestic violence, substance use prevention, motivational interviewing, and self-care. We developed community relationships and spread the seed of mental health awareness. During a time of mental health crisis visualized and exacerbated by the pandemic, we were fortunate to have had the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way thanks to a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we wish everyone good mental health!


Mental Health Awareness Training Team Faculty


Sandra J. Gonzalez, MSSW, Ph.D.

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Principal Investigator and Project Director

Mónica M. Alzate, Ph.D., LCSW, M.A.

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Co-Investigator and Director of Training


Mental Health Trainings & Topics


After each training, all participants received a list of community resources on mental health and social services. Most topics were suitable for the general public and were one hour long unless otherwise noted. Training was provided by the MHAT team faculty.

Descriptions of available training topics:

Titles Topics
Mental Health Awareness – Common Disorders, Identification, and Tools to Manage Them** Participants learned about the most common mental health disorders that affect children, youth, and adults and how to identify them. Additionally, they learned basic mental health first aid techniques to help someone in distress.
Adverse Childhood Experiences – ACEs Participants learned how certain experiences during childhood can change our brains, affect our physical/mental health, and impact our behaviors/outcomes throughout our lifespan. They also identified factors that create resilience.
Mental Health and Domestic Violence (DV) – Emphasis on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Part I

Participants learned about the types of DV in the life cycle, its impact on family dynamics, myths of DV and the cycle of abuse, screening for DV, safety plans, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected DV.

Mental Health and Domestic Violence (DV) – Emphasis on IPV Part II Participants learned about DV as an adverse childhood experience, trauma as a result of DV, common mental health disorders as a result of DV experiences, substance use, misuse, and disorders after or while experiencing DV, and common treatments for DV survivors. It was recommended that participants take the IPV Part 1 training prior to this one.
Natural Disasters & Mental Health Participants learned about the impact of natural disasters on mental health and well-being, when they are considered traumatic events, basic skills to recognize distress in self and others, basic mental health first aid skills to help someone experiencing distress, and tips to avoid certain negative outcomes during a natural disaster.
The Art of Self-Care: Myths and Best Practices Participants explored notions and myths of self-care plus barriers towards self-care, and developed a definition that takes into account overall well-being. Likewise, they learned and practiced during the presentation specific tools from relaxation and mindfulness techniques to help them build long-lasting habits to enhance resilience.
How much is too much alcohol? Participants learned about alcohol drinking thresholds, what constitutes low-risk drinking, heavy drinking, and binge drinking for all populations. They also learned about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and how to prevent alcohol-exposed pregnancies.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Techniques to Improve Wellbeing Participants learned the basic principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Techniques to understand how they help re-wire their brain.
Motivational Interviewing (MI)* Participants learned about the principles of this technique that enhances effective communication, stresses self-efficacy, and promotes well-being by helping people find reasons to change or avoid risky behaviors. It is applicable to a range of situations, from school truancy, drugs/alcohol use, risky sexual behavior, to medical treatment adherence.
Screening for Alcohol/Drugs, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)*# Participants learned how to implement the SBIRT approach to assess individuals' risk in their use of alcohol or drugs, provide a brief intervention, and refer to treatment.

*For healthcare, social services, and school personnel. #This training lasted two hours.

**Also available in Spanish.