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Appleseed Communities Talk Activity

Hosted by: Appleseed Community Mental Health Center

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

The Communities Talk funds helped to support advertising for co-occurring and alcohol prevention educational presentations for Ashland High School teachers. At the request of the school liaison and principal, Appleseed’s Co-Occurring Coordinator educated teachers on signs and symptoms when a student might be misusing opioids, stimulants, and alcohol; mental health issues, including identifying Adverse Childhood Experience scores for all students in the sophomore class; and how to make a referral for support and safety for students who are using substances. A total of 56 teachers and guidance office staff members were educated in a split after-school and before-school training. Teachers asked the Co-Occurring Coordinator about recent alcohol-related concerns and tragedies affecting local teenagers. For more information on our program, read this article.

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

Between December 1, 2020, and November 30, 2021, a total of 367 individuals with an alcohol use disorder-related diagnosis benefited from Appleseed’s services, accounting for 20% of all out-patient mental health services provided to adults by the agency during that time.

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What goal(s) did you hope to accomplish with your Communities Talk activity?

  • Create an ongoing conversation about underage drinking and substance use prevention in the community
  • Foster collaboration between community stakeholders for continued underage drinking and substance use prevention activities
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Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?

Appleseed's Co-Occurring Coordinator partnered with school liaisons and school staff to implement this project. Youth were not directly involved in the planning, promotion, or coordination of the activities. The principal at each of the trainings opened by stating, “This is a real need at Ashland High School, and we want to be able to support these students because the reality is it is happening more and more.” The Co-Occurring Coordinator provided information to teachers and staff about the impact of mental health symptoms on substance misuse and how alcohol as a depressant affects neurocognitive processing, which can affect sleep, reaction time, and social interactions.

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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • Communities Talk website
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Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?

COVID-19 did not impact our event.

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What other challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?

  • Time constraints
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How did you overcome these challenges?

The major challenge was time constraints, with summer break and back-to-school activities occurring during the project period. These challenges were addressed by coordinating with school staff on the best times available to provide education to teachers and staff.

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What are your next steps?

  • Conduct research efforts to learn more about issues in our community

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