Library grant will fund staff and community mental health training

This spring, Heights Libraries will offer two new behavioral health programs at its Lee Road branch: Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Gatekeeper QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training for suicide prevention. Thanks to a $6,500 grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, awarded by the State Library of Ohio in January, these programs will be open to the public, free of charge.

“We are excited to be able to open training sessions to the public and long-standing community partners, such as city departments and public schools,” said Maggie Kinney, special projects librarian at Heights Libraries. “With this ‘it takes a village’ approach, the library will be able to support community members with mental health issues outside of our four walls and positively impact the community as a whole.”

As an institution that serves members of the public from all walks of life, Heights Libraries recognizes the importance of training staff to assist individuals who may experience mental health emergencies, and equipping them with the tools to guide those individuals to reliable resources for long-term support and treatment.

Approximately one in five American adults experiences mental illness in a given year, and 60 percent of those affected did not receive treatment in the previous year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Heights Libraries has been training its staff in MHFA since 2013. With the grant, the library will be able to offer the same training to community partners and the public, and will be able to offer Gatekeeper QPR training for the first time.

The two-part MHFA training will be offered to the public on April 29 and 30, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The Gatekeeper QPR training will take place on May 8, at 7 p.m., and on May 17, at 10 a.m.

The courses will be facilitated by Recovery Resources, a Cleveland-based nonprofit organization that takes a multifaceted approach to mental health and addiction counseling, and offers continuing education programs like those available at the library. The courses will teach attendees how to recognize, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness, identify the warning signs of a suicide crisis, and refer those experiencing a crisis to additional resources.

These training programs support Heights Libraries’ strategic plan, which focuses on fostering diversity, equity and inclusion, promoting a safe and secure environment for the community, providing opportunities to positively impact the growth and personal development of library patrons, and being a bridge builder for community concerns.

“The hope is that attendees will come out of training with the tools and confidence they may need to assist someone in a mental health crisis," explained Kinney. "By providing MHFA and QPR training, we can promote compassion and understanding for those affected by mental health issues and cultivate an environment of community support.”

To register for these events, or for more information on upcoming programs at Heights Libraries, visit or call 216-932-3600.

Isabelle Rew

Isabelle Rew is the community engagement associate for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.

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Volume 12, Issue 4, Posted 12:38 PM, 04.01.2019