Outreach and Education
The Outreach and Education Initiative connects with churches and faith-based organizations primarily serving people who are Black or African American to identify and address their mental health, substance use disorder, and recovery education needs. Through Voice and Vision surveys in 2016 and 2017, Black and African American citizens in Chester County expressed their experiences, needs, and recommendations about access to behavioral health care and treatment, which was confirmed through a literature review. The data revealed:
- Stigma, insurance issues, lack of information, cultural beliefs, and access to and availability of treatment deter people from seeking help.
- Many people seek help first from their faith community and/or religious traditions (prayer, meditation, reading scriptures, etc.).
- Faith communities need more information and education about how to identify the need for and then assist people with getting professional help.
Some of the objectives of the initiative are to:
- identify the training and resource needs of each faith-based organization
- develop trusting relationships with faith-based leaders and congregants to foster dialogue about their needs
- enhance/increase knowledge and information about available resources to address the needs
- offer workshops, forums and events to support networking in each community
- create opportunities to develop partnerships between faith-based organizations and local mental health and substance use providers and community recovery support groups
- promote spirituality as an important part of wholistic treatment and long-term recovery to the service providers and government systems
- be a bridge between the faith community and service providers
Outreach Team Leader Pastor Kevin Hunt