MIAMI – A frank conversation at the University of Miami during Mental Health Awareness Month was aimed at raising awareness of mental illness and suicide prevention.

“I’m someone who has dealt with suicide ideation since I was a teenager,” Lisa Leseur told a group of UM administrators, faculty members and students.

Leseur is the programs coordinator for the Miami-Dade chapter of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She visits local schools and businesses to train employees and students on QPR, Question, Persuade and Refer. Three skills are needed if someone mentors a friend, co-worker or fellow student with suicidal thoughts. QPR is the mental health equivalent of CPR, and like CPR, QPR is aimed at saving lives.

“If you understand the signs and talk to someone and engage them in coversation you can get them to professional help and possibly save their life,” Leseur said.

UM students who took the course said it’ll help them deal with the stresses of college life and offer help to their fellow students who may be in a mental health crisis.

“I see a lot of academic stress on students,” said Kemeria Baroso, a UM nursing student. “I took the QPR training to help out my peers.”

“When I first got the email about this training I realized it would be great for my own mental health, but also help out my undergraduate peers,” said Jonathan Jean-Charles, a first year pre-med student at UM.

The 60 to 90 minute training is aimed at creating gatekeepers, people who can recognize someone in a mental health crisis and refer them to a mental health professional.

“What we do is come and teach the signs of mental illness to increase awareness and the options out there and programs we offer like support groups and peer to peer groups,” said Susan O’Mahoney Holtzman, president of the Miami-Dade Chapter of NAMI. “The reality is the healthier the employees are the healthier the business is.”

For more information on NAMI’s QPR training, click here.