Become An
Emotional Backpack School
Educator Toolkit Youth Behavioral Health
Resource Guide
Children’s Mental Health
Art Showcase 2018
Parent Toolkit  Post-Harvey Student Mental Health
and Trauma Resources
  Student Toolkit  Public Service Announcements


The Emotional Backpack Project is an education and awareness program led by the Center for School Behavioral Health at Mental Health America of Greater Houston that teaches youth, parents and educators about mental health and local resources so that all children can grow up to lead happy, healthy lives. Free resources are available on the MHA website, and Public Service Announcements are provided to help spread awareness about mental health.

Training modules, lesson plans and activities are available to schools to help infuse mental health in the campus culture. The training modules fulfill the TEA requirements for mental health and suicide prevention training are based on SAMHSA Nationally Recognized Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).  Schools select one or two Emotional Backpack Leaders to participate in a train-the-trainer program for a full year. After the successful completion of the program, Emotional Backpack Leaders continue to use the training modules at the school campus in future years.

The training teaches you how to:

  • Teach the Emotional Backpack Project curriculum to educators, parents and students, including mental health signs and symptoms, trauma informed classrooms, suicide prevention; which fulfill the TEA requirements for mental health and suicide prevention training.
  • Present the program with fidelity to the tested, core model.
  • Apply the program to a range of adult and student learning styles.

Who should attend:

  • A minimum of:
  • One School Administrator
  • One Facilitator
    • Willing to present to educators, parents and students
    • Prefer background in mental health, school counselor, school social worker, etc.

School orientation (2 hours) includes:

  • Overview of the Emotional Backpack Project
  • Roles and responsibilities of school and MHA Houston
  • 60-minute training on mental health and trauma

 Summer training (8 hours) includes:

  • Mental health signs and symptoms module
  • Trauma module
  • Suicide prevention module
  • “I Wish My Teacher Knew” Back-to-School Campaign guide and lesson plans
  • Overview of available resources on the Emotional Backpack Website
  • Coaching on being a strong presenter
  • 150 magnets to be distributed at parent presentations

Winter training (4 hours) includes:

  • Student suicide prevention module (middle and high school)
  • Student mental and emotional wellness module (elementary)
  • Guide and lesson plans for leading a youth mental health art and writing showcase
  • 25 drawstring bags for students

Emotional Backpack Leaders will also receive support and coaching from an MHA Liaison throughout the year. Additionally, all evaluation materials will be provided for use before and after trainings. Please see the Agreement Form for more information on the roles and responsibilities of both Emotional Backpack Leaders and MHA.

Commitment Requirements for School

  • Have a minimum of 1 school administrator attend School Orientation.
  • Have a minimum of 1 school facilitator actively participate and attend the entire orientation, full- and half-day trainings.
  • Provide trainings for educators (4 hours) in the fall semester on mental health signs and symptoms, trauma and youth suicide prevention.
  • Provide training for parents (3 hours) on mental health signs and symptoms, trauma and youth suicide prevention.
  • Implement the “I Wish My Teacher Knew” activity and share student responses (de-identified) with MHA.
  • Provide trainings for students (60 minutes) on mental health signs and symptoms and trauma
  • Facilitate the Children’s Mental Health Art and Writing Showcase and submit entries to MHA Houston during the spring semester.
  • Administer pre, post-, and follow-up evaluations (provided by MHA Houston) to all participants trained in the Emotional Backpack modules and submit results to MHA Houston.
  • Provide previous and current school year student discipline referrals, attendance, and grades (aggregated).
  • Notify my MHA Houston Emotional Backpack liaison re: dates/times/locations I will be presenting the training modules and arrange for the liaison to observe the presentations.

After full participation in this year-long program, participants have free ongoing access to use the training modules and lesson plans annually at their campus, providing they stay employed at the participating school. The program offers a sustainable way for schools to infuse mental health in the campus culture without having to spend money to provide training each year. The cost of the program is $500* if paid by check or $515 if paid by credit card, and covers all training, resources, a year of support from Center staff, and a select number of Center for School Behavioral Health drawstring bags to take back to campus. Schools can contact Betsy Blanks at

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