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Penquis Valley Dine and Discuss

Hosted by: Northern Light Mayo Hospital

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

The Communities Talk activity we hosted took place in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, on March 17, 2023. The activity, called “Penquis Valley Dine and Discuss,” was a conversation about youth mental health and wellness. The primary goal of this activity was to work together with parents, guardians, community members, and teachers to mentor our youth so they gain the education and knowledge to make good choices and live a healthy lifestyle so they can be successful community members. The Positive Action Team and Northern Light Mayo Hospital invited teens in middle and high school, along with their parents, to join in this discussion about mental health and wellness in our student body. Topics of discussion included the overall mental health and wellness of our student body, red flags to look out for, and the results of the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS). We also discussed creating a school and community environment that allows students to thrive and achieve academic potential and future aspirations. Due to the increase of substance misuse among our youth, we have increased our Narcan distribution at community events. These resources enable youth and the community to have access to lifesaving options to combat drug overdose.

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How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?

Event flyer

The 2021 MIYHS showed staggering results for youth in our community. MIYHS is a biennial survey of Maine students from grades 5 through 12 that monitors health behaviors and attitudes regarding tobacco, substance use, mental health, nutrition, physical activity, as well as protective factors. The MIYHS results showed that there were staggering results of poor mental health in our youth, increased substance misuse, and a low perception of risk of marijuana since its legalization in Maine in 2016. The survey also indicated an increase in suicidal ideation and feelings of not mattering in their community. These statistics ring true for our community, as there was a recent death of a child in our area from opioid poisoning.

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

  • Environmental Strategy - focuses on establishing or changing community standards, codes, and attitudes thereby influencing incidence and prevalence of alcohol and other drug use within the community. The strategy depends on engaging a broad base of community partners, focuses on places and specific problems, and emphasizes public policy.
  • 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.
  • Problem Identification and Referral Strategy – focuses on identifying individuals who have infrequently used or experimented with AOD who could change their behavior through education. The intention of the screening must be to determine the need for indicated prevention services and not treatment need.`
  • 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.
  • Alternative Strategy – focuses on redirecting individuals from potentially problematic situations and AOD use by providing constructive and healthy events/activities.
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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).
  • Start a youth-led coalition on alcohol and/or other drug misuse prevention.
  • Develop strategic plans 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?

  • Needed additional resources to conduct activity
  • Particularly severe or resistant substance use issues in our community
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How did you overcome these challenges?

We partnered with other sources to pay for the food for the event..

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • Create new action groups to tackle specific issues raised during our Communities Talk activity
  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
  • Create a public education campaign to raise awareness and/or change behaviors around underage drinking (i.e., create PSAs and other promotional materials)
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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?

The participation in the Communities Talk activity helped us bring our community together to share statistics from MIYHS, which is a biennial survey to bring awareness of and plan ways to reduce and/or prevent drug, tobacco, and alcohol misuse from occurring in our communities.

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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.

  • Law enforcement
  • Charitable organizations
  • Local businesses
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Which of the following best describes the primary audience(s) for your Communities Talk activity?

  • Youth
  • Parents
  • Teachers or other education staff
  • Prevention specialists and volunteers
  • Law enforcement officials
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How did you reach and engage your primary audience(s) to encourage them to participate in your activity?

We engaged our primary audience by putting together a PowerPoint presentation with insights and results from the 2021 MIYHS. We invited students and parents to a free community dinner donated by a local business to discuss the findings of the survey. The dinner was held at the local town office, and the 45 participants were engaged and anxiously awaiting the discussion about the youth mental health and substance misuse survey results. This event was so successful that the community members want to keep the conversation going to address the current issues of drug and alcohol misuse.

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

  • Prevention-related webinars
  • Tips & Tools for Hosting a Virtual Event
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk Find an Activity Map

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