I CAN HELP is a Mental Health Literacy, Compassion Development, and Suicide Risk Reduction Program for College and University Campuses. Programs such as I CAN HELP are designed for students, faculty, staff, and other non-mental health professionals are sometimes called gatekeeper training. This program can be provided to faculty, staff, or student leaders quickly and has no licensing fees. Materials are available to download for educational use at no cost, and train-the-trainer programs can be arranged for those who want more support. To order a printed version of the manual please click here.


How does the I CAN HELP program compare to other campus gatekeeper training programs?


We know suicide prevention programs work and are more likely to be used that CPR training, yet less likely to be given. So, if you're not using one on your campus, please find one, and start. If you already have individuals in your campus trained in one of the other nationally recognized training programs (e.g. Campus Connect, QPR, Mental Health First Aid, etc.) and it's meeting your needs, that's fantastic. 

Balancing depth of content without making the program too long or too short is a big challenge.

I CAN HELP does a decent job at this balance, with a program that can be done is 2 or 2.5 hours. This means you can easily provide it along with the advanced modules in a single morning or afternoon session, without worrying about lunch breaks/costs, and you're likely to get more participation than a full day training. You an also split it up into to two 2-hour segments on two separate days if you need. Those who need a full day training can expand on the included interactive scenarios for more depth.

I CAN HELP Essentials provides a complete overview of tools for audiences that simply can't dedicate a half-day to training. It covers most of the same basics as the longer course in all the key areas while saving more depth in the areas of suicide theory, conflict resolution, basic needs, and reflective listening for smaller audiences that want the advance materials at a later date. Some campuses choose this version as part of slightly longer training if they have lots of additional local content to include. 

Another feature that sets the I CAN HELP program apart is the breadth of its focus. Wellbeing is a whole-person activity, and goes well beyond just thinking about suicide. I CAN HELP includes information about trauma, adverse childhood experience, alcohol and other drug use, other basic needs like food insecurity, growth-mindset and resiliency, high conflict personalities, boundary setting, and more. All together this means you an achieve a range of education in a single program. 

I CAN HELP training materials are also based on cutting edge suicide prevention research and aligns intervention strategies intentionally with campus retention goals (see below for more information about both of these points). 


The core intervention strategies of the I CAN HELP program have been specifically designed to align with high impact practices to improve student success and campus retention. Please fill out the contact sheet below if you would like more detailed information. 

Campus-wide mental health literacy and suicide prevention programs have a significant positive impact on student success and we will continue to measure the direct impact of the I CAN HELP program upon implementation in multiple ways. Students receiving counseling services are 3 times more likely to stay enrolled in school compared to a non-counseling control group (Lee, 2009) and the I CAN HELP program helps faculty, staff and students understand how and when to refer. We know that First-year students who engaged in counseling had a 7.6% higher retention rate (Porter, 2011), and that the number of counseling sessions is a significant positive predictor of cumulative GPA following counseling treatment and a positive predictor of whether or not students completed a degree within 6 years, and for every 1-unit increase in the number of counseling sessions, the odds of degree completion increased by 5.1% (Schitze, 2018). We also low-risk students, a key target of the I CANHELP model, who used counseling services are retained at a significantly higher rate than high risk students who used counseling services (Bishop, 2016). Because poor mental health is significantly associated to dropout among students in vocational and higher education (Hjorth, 2016) programs like I CAN HELP which increase mental health literacy and improve the ability of staff, faculty, and students to refer the right people to services in a timely way, directly target Student Success. While outcomes are well documented in the literature, we will continue to assess the direct impact of the I CAN HELP program on Student Success through proximal measurement using the built in assessment tools that track learning change pre- and post- training for targeted learning outcomes correlated with imported campus knowledge and student success as well through population-level measurement, reviewing the outcomes of our national study data (i.e. ACHA NCHA, Healthy Minds, etc.) over longer period of time to track the impact on specific health and wellbeing correlates of Student Success.

Works Cited

WHERE can I learn more about Three Step Theory (3ST)

I CAN HELP is based on one of the leading new theories in suicide prevention, the Three-Step Theory (3ST), which is supported by significant empirical evidence. 

David Klonsky and Alexis May have argued that an “ideation-to-action” framework should guide suicide theory, research, and prevention. From this perspective, (a) the development of suicide ideation and (b) the progression from ideation to suicide attempts are distinct processes with distinct explanations. As a primer, we suggest this article on the Three-Step Theory (3ST)

Can I REALLY use these materials for free?


The goal is to support as much positive change as possible at campuses and community organizations across the country. The materials are yours to use for educational purposes, just cite them properly and don't sell them. If you want to use the materials in conjunction with other campus-specific trainings, go right ahead as well. And, if you have ideas about how to improve the materials, please let us know using the form below. 



Content Overview

I CAN HELP Content Overview (PDF) | This two page summary of the content areas is useful as an overview of the topics covered, to share with others if you are considering using the program on your campus, or to distribute when advertising a training event. You may also wish to direct them to this page, or share the table of contents from the full training manual.

Train-THE-TRAINER Materials

You're free to download and use the materials; I ask that you please add your name and e-mail here to ensure you are notified of updates and are always using the current version. If you’re interested in scheduling a train-the-trainer event, please simply let me know.


As a primer, try this article on the Three-Step Theory (3ST). Additional research on the efficacy of the I CAN HELP training program in achieving key learning outcomes is currently underway. Please complete the form here if you would like to be notified when the data is publicly available, or if you would like help participating.