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Division of Mental Health Services

Office of Crisis Services and Sucide Prevention

TDMHSAS Mandatory Pre-Screening Agent Program

IMPORTANT REMINDER:  Mandatory Prescreening Agents are required to take the MPA Refresher Course every two years.

What is a Mandatory Pre-Screening Agent?
A Mandatory Pre-screening Agent (MPA) is a qualified mental health professional designated by the Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to determine the need and issue a certificate of need (CON) for emergency involuntary psychiatric hospitalization.

Why is this process important?
Mandatory Pre-screening Agents (MPA) ensure that individuals in a behavioral health crisis have access to a mental health professional who is familiar with available community resources and appropriate treatment interventions.  MPA’s should have experience assessing and managing a behavioral health crisis and consider all less drastic alternatives to emergency involuntary hospitalization when screening an individual with behavioral health needs.

Who is eligible to become designated?
To be considered for eligibility for designation as a MPA you must be licensed to practice in Tennessee and be a qualified mental health professional.
Qualified mental health professionals:

  • Psychiatrist
  • Physician with expertise in psychiatry
  • Psychologist with health service provider designation
  • Licensed psychological examiner
  • Licensed senior psychological examiner
  • Licensed master’s social worker with two years of mental health experience
  • Licensed clinical social worker
  • Licensed or certified marital and family therapist
  • Licensed professional counselor
  • Licensed nurse with a master’s degree in nursing who functions as a psychiatric nurse
  • Licensed Physician's Assistant with a master's degree and expertise in psychiatry as determined by training, education or experience

How do I become designated?
To become designated as an MPA, you must be a qualified mental health professional, satisfactorily complete an initial training session and be designated by the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

When are the initial training sessions?
All initial training sessions will be located in room 109A at the Mental Health Cooperative in Nashville, TN from 10am to 2pm (CST).  There is no charge for this training session.

To register for the training you must complete the required registration form and submit it to  no later than 7 days prior to the scheduled training date. Space for the initial training session is limited and priority will be given to professionals who are employed to serve as a crisis responder. 

Training Location:
Mental Health Cooperative
275 Cumberland Bend Drive
Suite 109-A
Nashville, TN  37228
Phone (615) 726-3340

Training Dates:


March 18, 2015
June 17, 2015
September 23, 2015
December 16, 2015


March 16, 2016
June 15, 2016

Please note:  No CEU's are afforded for the MPA Training Class, however, the training will provide 4 contact hours.

For additional information you may contact us at .

What are the recent changes to MPA authority?

Effective January 1, 2012, MPAs are required to complete a refresher course to ensure designated professionals stay up to date on Tennessee law, responsibility requirements and resource availability. Refresher courses are to be completed within 30 days of the expiration date of your professional license. The refresher course can be taken online at MPA refresher course.  If a MPA prefers to attend initial training, this can be substituted for the online refresher course.

How do I re-apply for MPA designation when my license expires?

The MPA refresher course will be available online no later than January 1, 2012.
Instructions for taking the on-line MPA Refresher Course:
1. Click here:  MPA refresher course.
A slide presentation / refresher course will appear (you may review at your own pace by clicking the forward or back buttons). 

2. At the end of the slide presentation a pop-up button will read:  “Click Here to Begin the Exam and Final Application Process”. Click on the button.

3. The “MPA Refresher Course- Post Test” will appear. Complete the test.

4. After you complete the test, click on the “Score My Exam” button located at the lower left hand corner of the test.

5. A pop-up window with your test score and a “pass” or “fail” will appear.  If you failed the test a link will be provided that reads, “click here to retake exam” 

6. If you pass the test, a “Certificate of Completion” will appear.  Please print a copy for your records.

7. After you print your certificate,  click on the “Application For MPA Re-designation” button and complete the “Request to Renew Mandatory Pre-Screening Agent Designation” application

8. After completing the application, click on the “submit your application” button

After all the above steps are completed, your test scores and application will be automatically sent to letting TDMHSAS know if you have successfully completed the MPA Refresher Course.  No further action is needed from you at this time.  We will then verify that your professional license has been renewed and send you a final confirmation regarding the continuation, limitation or termination of your MPA status within 30-60 days.

You may continue your duties as a MPA uninterrupted until such time that e-mail confirmation is received. It is your responsibility to ensure that TDMHSAS maintains current contact information.  Failure to complete the required refresher course, submit a status update and/or apply for re-designation will result in removal of your designation.

If designation is removed for any reason, you may re-apply for designation after completing the required refresher course. The Commissioner has the authority to remove or alter designation with or without cause at any time.

Please note: You may substitute the initial training course for the online training on any of the dates listed above if preferred. If you choose to be recertified by attending one of our initial training courses, please complete the “Initial Training Registration Form” and send to us via the instructions on the form.

What are the responsibilities of a Mandatory Pre-Screening Agent?

  • Assess the need for emergency psychiatric hospitalization and complete a certificate of need if involuntary hospitalization is indicated.
  • Refer to less restrictive behavioral health services whenever possible
  • Follow up with the client within 12 hours of assessment to determine effectiveness and appropriateness or designate another QMHP or crisis provider to perform the follow-up. If first referral is determined to be ineffective, provide alternative referral/resource.
  • Maintain documentation of assessment, clinical intervention activities and results.
  • Determination of presence of durable power of attorney and/or mental health declaration
  • Determination of presence mandatory outpatient treatment obligation
  • Provide pertinent information about the client to the treatment resource
  • Fulfill duty to warn obligations
  • Determination of the need for vehicle security and initiation of transportation arrangements
  • Location of an inpatient psychiatric facility within the payer source network of the individual served
  • Completion of required pre-authorization for payment as applicable
  • Notify TDMHSAS of any status changes or updates

How to submit status changes or updates:

MPAs must immediately notify the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services by submitting a MPA Status Update form if:

1. no longer meets the requirements for Qualified Mental Health Professional (QMHP)
2. requires or make changes in service area location(s)
3. no longer functions as a Mandatory Pre-Screening Agent and/or
4. changes name, address or contact information

(note: form is located under “forms” on this webpage. This form can be emailed to or faxed to: 615-253-6822

What types of community resources are available as less drastic alternatives to hospitalization?


Online Refresher course

List of Hospitals that accept CONs - Pending

List of active MPAs


Community Based Pre-screening Rule

Title 33

Crisis services

Crisis Services Training Manual

Regional Mental Health Institutes (RMHIs)

Crisis Services and Sucide Prevention Links