With support from ReCAST, Places for People and the St. Louis Regional Center of Excellence in Behavioral Health are beginning a conversation about mental health in the Promise Zone.


Retired Places for People Executive Director Joe Yancey introduces the "It's About Hope: Reinforcing Resilience" series

Upcoming Trainings

To empower you to learn more about mental health, we are offering online training opportunities.

Pursuit of Happiness Program
Eight sessions (Aug. 5 – Sept. 23)
Registration for this program is now closed.

Would you like to feel happier?

We have a deep human longing to be happy—something the founders of the United States realized when they wrote into the Declaration of Independence that every person was entitled to the pursuit of happiness.

While we all want to be happy, life often takes its toll on our happiness and well-being. The happiness of Americans has been on a steady decline since the 1950s. Current conditions add even more stress to our lives, often making it harder to feel happy.

Fortunately, there are a number of skills and strategies that scientific research studies have shown can help people to feel significantly happier.

The Places for People St. Louis Regional Center of Excellence in Behavioral Health is offering a comprehensive program to enhance happiness and well-being. The program includes a number of skills, strategies, and practices that have been demonstrated in research studies to significantly improve happiness in studies with the general public.

The program will include eight one-hour interactive workshop sessions from 12:30-1:30 p.m. via Zoom.

The program will be led by Gary Morse, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development at Places for People. Dr. Morse has served in the mental health care field since 1981, providing behavioral health services, researching and developing best practices, administering programs, consulting, and training. The focus of Dr. Morse’s professional work has been to reduce the suffering and improve the wellness of people living with mental health disorders. He has also developed over the past dozen years an innovative program for reducing burnout and improving wellness among behavioral health staff. Julie Blanco, Director of Training and Technical Assistance at the St. Louis Regional Center of Excellence in Behavioral Health, will serve as facilitator for the series.

On a voluntary basis, participants can also participate in an evaluation of the program. The optional evaluation will include checklists at the start of the program, after one month, and after two months to assess your voluntary use of strategies, your experiences and suggestions about the program, and your baseline and follow-up levels of happiness and well-being. You will be given a $10 gift card for completing the evaluation questions, and (if you wish) will be provided with information about your personal happiness scores.

Of course, there’s no guarantees this program will improve your personal happiness. Still, the fact that nearly all of the skills and strategies have been found in scientific research studies to significantly improve the happiness or well-being of people gives us hope that this program will be beneficial to some people who participate in these workshops.

For additional information, please contact Julie Blanco, LCSW, at jblanco@placesforpeople.org or Gary Morse, Ph.D., at gmorse@placesforpeople.org.

Thanks for your interest!

If you have a topic suggestion or would like to offer one of these trainings to your group or organization, please contact Julie Blanco at jblanco@placesforpeople.org.

Past Trainings

Thank you to everyone who attended these previous trainings

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness
Tuesday, May 19
Watch the recording of the training

Places for People and the St. Louis Regional Center of Excellence in Behavioral Health, with support from St. Louis ReCAST, offered this live training by Places for People Outpatient Clinic Program Manager Meagan Doty, LCSW, to help people recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness. This training provided an introduction to some of the most identified mental illnesses. The purpose of this training is provide insight into common mental health conditions, and provide insight into the experience of people living with mental illness so that we increase referrals to resources, reduce stigma and prevent traumatic encounters.

Mama said there’d be days like this…” (Parenting in today’s world)
Friday, May 29
Watch the recording of the training

Places for People Incredible Years Team Leader Kevin Wells, MSW, provided a live training to help parents and caregivers develop skills needed to support children during challenging times.


Recognizing Acute Stress Risks During COVID-19
Monday, July 27 | Noon-1 p.m.

Pallavi Nishith, Ph.D. and Julie Blanco, LCSW, explored the importance of recognizing acute stress during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the risk of PTSD in its aftermath. This hourlong discussion included suggestions of where to turn for support.

Identifying and Managing Stress during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dr. Gary Morse, Vice President of Research and Evaluation, discusses identifying stressors, and also strategies for managing stress in this video series, including a guided meditation in the third video.


With support from ReCAST, Places for People is committed to providing information to individuals and families living in the Promise Zone to help remove the stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use disorders.

Stigma builds shame and fear, and prevents individuals who need treatment from seeking it. Behavioral health disorders are illnesses of the brain, and should be treated no differently than illnesses experienced in other body parts. Recovery is real. Recovery is possible.

Emotional health and emotional well-being are absolutely essential to overall health.Joe Yancey, Retired Places for People Executive Director

About St. Louis ReCAST

All St. Louis ReCAST community projects are decided on and awarded through a participatory budgeting process – meaning that the communities themselves are involved in making the decisions. Participatory budgeting is a democratic process in which Promise Zone community members vote on how to spend the ReCAST funds.

St. Louis ReCAST’s goals are to:

  • Build a foundation to promote well-being, resiliency, and community healing;
  • Improve access to trauma-informed community behavioral health resources and youth peer support; and
  • Create community change using a community-based participatory approach.