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It s Time We Talk, Connecting our community through mental health conversations

Hosted by: Barrington Prevention Coalition

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

On May 3, 2023, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., we held a mental health and wellness fair at our local library. Eleven organizations presented helpful information to the community members in attendance. From 6:30 to 8 p.m., there was a presentation on anxiety by Ellen Flannery-Schroeder, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island (URI) and a licensed psychologist specializing in parenting, childhood emotional health and wellness, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Dr. Flannery-Schroeder also directs the outpatient Child Anxiety Program at URI and co-directs the New England Center for Anxiety in Rhode Island. After her presentation, Dr. Flannery-Schroeder answered questions, and attendees were able to go back through the wellness fair. The event was well attended, with 40+ people present. 

We received great feedback from attendees about our speaker. Dr. Flannery-Schroeder shared useful information about the signs to look for in a person who may be experiencing mental health problems. The best outcome for the evening event was the number of community members and staff who took part in planning the activity and the successful participation from the attendees. Everyone was pleased with the resources and had many questions for the speaker, particularly about mental health care among teens. We had good attendance as well.  

Members of the community welcomed information about mental health and the prevention of substance use. Everyone was happy to share and answer questions, and it was a great opportunity to have open conversation, as well as the collaboration from many organizations and other communities.

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How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?

We have, unfortunately, had several elementary school teachers who died by suicide at the beginning of the 2022–2023 school year, so people in our community are very focused on mental health. We know that the state of one’s mental health has a direct impact on substance use. Therefore, this area seemed the most logical to concentrate on. 

We felt that this year, with the loss of several teachers to suicide and the rise of mental health issues, it was a great topic to explore. The responses and feedback received at the health fair proved this was a much-needed conversation to focus on. The resources, which consisted of mental health and substance use and misuse pamphlets, were appreciated and the audience was happy to review and take the materials with them. 

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Which prevention strategy(ies), as defined by SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, best fit your Communities Talk activity?

  • Community-Based Process Strategy - focuses on enhancing the capacity of the community to address AOD issues through organizing, planning, collaboration, coalition building, and networking.
  • Information Dissemination Strategy - focuses on improving awareness and knowledge of the effects of AOD issues on communities and families through “one-way” communication with the audience such as speaking engagements, health fairs, and distribution of print materials.
  • Education Strategy – focuses on “two-way” communication between the facilitator and participants and aims to improve life/social skills such as decision making, refusal skills, and critical analysis.
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What goal(s) did you hope to accomplish with your Communities Talk activity?

  • Hold meetings or discussion groups on alcohol and/or other drug misuse prevention.
  • Create alcohol and/or other drug misuse prevention action groups (e.g., committees, task forces, and advisory boards).
  • Build coalitions with other agencies or programs to reduce and prevent alcohol and/or other drug misuse.
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Did you accomplish your goal(s)?


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

  • We had very little in the way of challenges. Community members were very supportive due to our unfortunate tragedies
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How did you overcome these challenges?

No real challenge. Everything went smoothly.

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What are your next steps?

  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
  • We have, unfortunately, had several elementary school teachers who died by suicide at the beginning of the 2022–2023 school year, so people in our community are very focused on mental health. We know that the state of one’s mental health has a direct impact on substance use. Therefore, this area see
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If you’ve conducted Communities Talk activities in prior years, how has your repeated participation contributed to progress in achieving your prevention goals?

We have a sense of what needs to be done, what we want to accomplish.

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Organizations that conduct Communities Talk activities often involve other organizations in the planning and execution of events. Please indicate which type(s) of organizations you involved in your activity planning.

  • Youth-led organizations
  • State and local government agencies (e.g., public health departments)
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Which of the following best describes the primary audience(s) for your Communities Talk activity?

  • Parents
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How did you reach and engage your primary audience(s) to encourage them to participate in your activity?

We did outreach through the schools, who were also planning a community-wide health and wellness fair the week after ours, with activities in the school prior to their event so they looked at our event as the “kickoff” to theirs. That partnership worked well. The support and collaboration of the communities contributed to having a successful event. It was a nice turnout; the speaker was well received.

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

  • SAMHSA’s Event Planner
  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk toolkits

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