Improving the delivery of behavioral health services to vulnerable, under-served and high risk populations

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Community Healthworker Toolkit

Community Health Worker Toolkit: Community Health Workers develop partnerships between healthcare organizations/providers and vulnerable individuals in the community to improve outcomes. BHLI is producing a “Toolkit” for CHWs to use as a reference in the field. The content is geared to CHWs working in integrated primary teams, medical homes or any other setting where they will be working with persons who have behavioral health needs

There is a significant population of poor and vulnerable individuals who have serious health needs across the spectrum but are left out of care because of a failure to engage in the treatment system. This failure results from a variety of factors, including issues related to the behavioral health problems themselves, stigma, past negative experiences with traditional providers, fear and burdens related to their social determinants such as lack of transportation, lack of child care and the gap in knowledge related to health. Community Health Workers are essential to build linkages to treatment, disease management and recovery. However, most CHW trainings and toolkits focus on specific disease and do not include in-depth knowledge related to behavioral health. This is a serious gap.

BHLI is developing a Toolkit for CHWs with funding from the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation and the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission. The Toolkit will be geared to CHWs who have gone through a general training or a behavioral health training program to use as a resource guide while they are out working with patients. The toolkit will include general information on the health care and behavioral health care system and specific but accessible information related to the specific issues relevant to mental health and substance use disorders.

Topics will include but not be limited to:

• Description of the health care system, roles of team members and medical terminology
• Role of the CHW as a team member
• Communication skills and motivational interviewing
• Strengths based approach and Recovery
• Stages of Change
• Harm Reduction
• Definitions, treatment protocols, symptoms and key issues related to major behavioral health disorders
• Recognizing a crisis and tools
• Relationship of behavioral health disorders to general health
• Disease management
• Stigma and community

The guide will be designed with portability and accessibility in mind and have links to on-line resources including videos and exercises for use in the field.