Coast to Forest: Mental Health Promotion in Rural Oregon
Photo by Lynn Ketchum (Cropped from original)
The Coast to Forest collaboration between the OSU Extension Family and Community Health Program and the OSU Center for Health Innovation works on mental health promotion and substance misuse prevention. Our goals work to:
Improve mental health and well-being
Reduce opioid misuse and abuse and associated harms
Expand training tools and technical assistance through the OSU Extension Service and College of Public Health and Human Sciences
Build capacity in rural Oregon to prevent and reduce opioid and stimulant use disorders and their consequences, and move people to recovery
The Coast to Forest initiative builds upon existing state and community strengths and resources. This includes a growing network of community health workers, radio stations covering communities' health and wellness, community-level partnerships and an expanding Mental Health First Aid network. Funding for the state and local initiatives was made available through the USDA and SAMHSA for land-grant universities like Oregon State University.
Deploy and train Community Health Workers to coordinate and provide evidence-based training in two high-need regions of the state
Assess population mental health needs, resources and readiness, and conduct strategic planning through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s program and through Community Conversations about Mental Health
Build capacity to address needs by training community partners in Mental Health First Aid and sharing local mental health resource directories
Implement health education strategies to reach broad community audiences, including through local Extension radio programming and educational offerings during Prevention Week
Conduct monitoring and evaluation, and present project results to policymakers and other important audiences.
Increase accessto multiple resources through free-to-access web-based library of on-demand trainings, tools, and technical assistance materials.
Present de-stigmatizing media training to provide best practices for covering substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery.
Conduct Peer Support Fundamentals (PSF) Training that will provide trainees with increased knowledge, skills and attitudes related to substance use disorders and peer support fundamentals
The Coast to Forest project serves all 36 Oregon County with special programming available in Baker, Lincoln, Tillamook and Union Counties.
Photo: Coast to Forest project team
Community Conversations about Mental Health allow community partners to guide or facilitate strategic conversations according to the evidence-based toolkit. The four “sessions” include:
Discussion of Challenges
Exploration of Response
Mental Health First Aid Training for adult community members is delivered in each region at four specific times. Participants can include:
Public health, social service and healthcare providers
Community coalition leaders and members
Farmers and agricultural sector workers
Parents (through the parenting hubs)
OSU Extension Radio Programming provides:
Broad-reaching education to rural listeners
Multiple formats (e.g., personal stories, expert interviews, innovative solutions)
Varied mental health and substance abuse topics.
County-Level Mental Health and Substance Abuse Resource Guides, developed and distributed widely within each county, include:
Comprehensively compiled information for local referrals and support
National resources and support
Prevention Week activities, held in each region during the second weeks of May 2021 and 2022, is an annual, nationwide event to:
Raise community awareness about mental health and substance abuse
Offer locally-driven educational events to highlight needs and opportunities for action and promote recovery.
Web-Based Library provides:
Current resources and information on prevention and treatment of opioid/stimulant misuse for all audiences.
Virtual trainings (publicly available and on-demand)
De-Stigmatizing Media Training developed to provide best practices for covering substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery:
90 minute virtual media training (live-moderated online session, repeated quarterly)
Peer Support Fundamentals (PSF) Training to increase knowledge, skills and attitudes related to substance use disorders and peer support fundamentals:
Interactive online training
Course graduates will be able to train, education and support others
Increase knowledge and awareness about mental health, substance abuse, and available helping resources;
Decrease stigma related to substance abuse and mental health;
Increase skills and confidence for helping community members in distress;
Increase helping behaviors and referrals for mental health and substance abuse;
Increase use of mental health and substance abuse services;
Greater community efficacy to address local needs through community changes; and
Development of community-driven plans to promote mental health and prevent substance abuse.
Coast to Forest Initiative Outcomes - Chart
Some rural counties in Oregon have disproportionately high rates of mental health issues and opioid misuse.
Coastal and Forested counties are economically distressed, with a jobs base in industries characterized by elevated injury and stress rates, contributing to increased risk of substance abuse.
Efforts to address high rates of mental illness and opioid and other substance abuse are underway across the state, but upstream prevention efforts are still needed.
OSU Extension has existing capacity and partnerships to address prevention gaps.
Inputs, Activities, and Outputs
Existing community partnerships linking OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, OSU Extension, the Office of Rural Health, local public health agencies, local coordinated care organizations, community coalitions, and Oregon Mental Health First Aid
Time and expertise of OSU Extension and all community partners
A trained workforce of community health workers
Mental Health First Aid Curriculum and existing educational materials
Additional funding from partners
Community Conversations about Mental Health
Mental Health First Aid Training
Development and Disseminations of County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Resource Guides
Participation of community partners in prevention efforts
Purposeful community discussion about mental health and substance abuse
Trained MHFA instructors and community members
Radio show scripts
Participation of community members in events and educational opportunities
Four Mental Health and Substance Abuse Resource Guides
Knowledge, Beliefs, Attitudes
Increased knowledge and awareness about mental health, substance abuse, and resources
Increased skills and confidence to help individuals in distress
Decreased stigma around mental health and substance abuse
Greater community capacity and self-efficacy to address local needs
Increase in helping behaviors and referrals for mental health/substance abuse
Increased use of services for mental health/substance abuse
Community agreement or plan to promote mental health and prevent substance abuse
Decrease in unmet mental health need
Increase in community mental health/well-being
Decrease in opioid misuse
Decrease in opioid-related overdoses and fatalities
Assumptions and External Factors
Community health workers can be recruited from within the service area
Information/curriculum disseminated will achieve the expected outcomes
Partnerships will be effective at expanding the reach of program activities within the target audiences
Large increases in opioid-related overdoses or mortality may impact the capacity of some partners to participate in prevention efforts
Socioeconomic factors within the service area may affect reach and uptake within the population or within population segments
Previous experiences of community partners may affect how program activities operate
Marion Ceraso, MHS, MA, Co-Program Director is an Associate Professor of Practice with Extension Family and Community Health Program, at the Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences. (bio)
Two decades of experience providing collaborative leadership, training and technical assistance to communities mobilizing to advance local population health and health equity
developed health promotion curricula and training on opioid prevention for primary care physicians, and worked as an investigative journalist covering community public health issues and as a community organizer in economically distressed communities.
Allison Myers, PhD, MPH, Co-Program Director is the Director for the Oregon State University Center for Health Innovation, responsible for launching new projects at the intersection of public health for the College of Public Health and Human Sciences and the state. (bio)
Co-founded two organizations that depend on her expertise engaging community stakeholders and equipping them with the tools for policy, systems, and environmental changes that promote health and well-being.
Dusti Linnell, PhD, Outreach Coordinator is a Lincoln and Tillamook county-based Assistant Professor of Practice, Family and Community Health Extension Program at the Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences has facilitated a national award-winning community partnership in Tillamook county and has been engaged with both Lincoln and Tillamook County health improvement initiatives since 2016. (bio)
Scholarship and expertise in health promotion and disease prevention and her dedication to providing service in her communities positions her well to provide support and open doors to the community partners for the project.
Robin Maille, MA, MF, Outreach Coordinator is a Baker and Union county-based Assistant Professor of Practice, Family and Community Health Extension Program at the Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences. (bio)
Cultivated strong local partnerships and participated on multiple local coalitions
Trainings in Mental Health FirstAid, Trauma Informed Oregon, and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and her continued professional development around substance abuse (Oregon Opioid Summit)
Sandi Cleveland Phibbs, PhD, MPH, Evaluator is a public health and evaluation consultant. As a health educator she has planned, implemented, and evaluated community substance abuse prevention and health promotion programs. (bio)
Expertise is in evaluation design, data collection, and data analysis and interpretation for both qualitative and quantitative studies.
Currently serving as an evaluator for a three-year project to expand access to opioid treatment in a rural Oregon countyView Sandi’s bio here
Marc Braverman, PhD, Senior Evaluation Consultant is a national recognized, evaluation research award-winning Professor and an Extension Specialist, Family and Community Health Extension Program at the Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences. (bio)
Recently evaluated three non-opioid pain treatment centers in northwest Oregon.
Roberta Riportella, PhD, Senior Collaborator is Associate Dean for Outreach and Engagement and Leader of the Family and Community Health Extension Program at the Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences. (bio)
Worked with many state-based agencies, non-profits, and local groups focused on community health
Madeleine Seifert, Student Intern, is based in Corvallis and is working on projects with the Allison Myers at OSU Center for Health Innovation. She is in the OSU Honors College and majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology. She is working on developing resource guides and radio programming.
Experience with organizing mental health awareness week at her high school and QPR suicide prevention training.
Kasey Purcell, Student Intern, is working with Dusti Linnell in Tillamook and Lincoln Counties compiling resource guides to increase access to local behavioral and mental health resources. Kasey is pursuing a degree in dietetics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is working towards a career in community nutrition.
Coast to Forest programming is grounded in collaboration with partners. New partners are welcomed with gratitude!
Special thanks to those who offered letters of support for the Coast to Forest proposal to the USDA/NIFA Rural Health and Safety Education Program:
The OSU Extension Family and Community Health Program and the OSU Center for Health Innovation have partnered on the project From Coast to Forest: Building on Community Strengths to Promote Mental Health and Reduce Opioid Abuse in Rural Oregon. It works to address gaps in educational, preventive and systems-level approaches to the opioid and mental health crisis.