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Curriculum available for communities facing emerging behavioral health issues

Posted: July 6, 2017

One in five Americans experience behavioral health issues in any given year, and yet the signs and symptoms of behavioral health challenges are not always clear. Recently, Community Assessment and Education to Promote Behavioral Health Planning and Evaluation (CAPE) developed and administered a series of trainings designed to help communities address emerging behavioral health problems. The curriculum, which is available upon request, provides a valuable framework for community development and other extension professionals who want to play a leading role in helping communities address a broad range of behavioral health challenges.

The main goals of the curriculum are: 

  1. to enhance participant mental health literacy and equip educators with the capacity to heighten mental health literacy in the communities they serve; and,
  2. to enhance capacity to initiate and sustain local coalitions focused on community mental health challenges.

There are two main components to the trainings. The first offered Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training, which focused on teaching participants how to provide initial assistance to those suffering from mental health illnesses. The CAPE team administered an 8-hour training course designed to help participants learn the basic skills to help those experiencing mental health challenges. Arguably, MHFA is just as important as a course on CPR.

The second component of the training focused on community development and capacity building practices. The objective here was to help participants adapt and improve their community capacity building skills to address behavioral health challenges. Just like other community development activities, addressing behavioral health challenges such as the opioid crisis requires bringing key community stakeholders together. Participants learned via pre-recorded training sessions and interactive webinars to apply community development capacity building tools to address behavioral health issues at a community level. The training taught participants how to access, present and debate local behavioral health priorities, collaborate and communicate, and set realistic community goals to address behavioral health challenges..

The curriculum was developed by John Leatherman of Kansas State University and Scott Loveridge, Paula Miller and Mark Skidmore of Michigan State University. Information on the curriculum, which is available upon request, provides a valuable framework for community development and other extension professionals who want to play a leading role in helping communities address a broad range of behavioral health challenges.

For more information, please contact Mark Skidmore at the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development: ; 517-353-9172.