West Virginia State University Study to Examine Behavioral Health Issues

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363
April 10, 2014
West Virginia State University Study to Examine Behavioral Health Issues
INSTITUTE, W.Va. – West Virginia State University (WVSU) has received an $86,386 grant to study the impact behavioral health issues are having on businesses and organizations in the Charleston area. Behavioral health issues to be studied include mental illness, substance abuse disorders and illegal drug use.

The study is part of a national assessment project to promote behavioral health planning and evaluation and reduce incidences of an area’s most prevalent behavioral health issues. Organizations in the Charleston area are being surveyed to determine the level of impact these issues have on business, as well as businesses’ awareness level of local behavioral health treatment resources.

Through the Community Assessment and Education to Promote Behavioral Health Planning and Evaluation (CAPE) program, communities can identify the behavioral health issues most pressing at the local level and develop systems to effectively reduce incidences.

“The data we collect will be especially useful in helping local organizations and policymakers make the best use of limited resources,” said Dr. Brenda Wamsley, chair of WVSU’s department of social work. Wamsley is leading the project at WVSU.

Nationally, 18 percent of adults have mental illness and 7 percent have a substance use disorder – rates that have remained stable in recent years despite efforts to combat the conditions.

The project will be nationally implemented in four phases. Survey research is the first phase and will determine which issues are most prevalent locally, as well as gauge how important these issues are to business leaders. The research will also identify how community members receive information about behavioral health treatment options.

“With this first phase of survey research, we want to find out what kind of impact behavioral health issues are having on business in the region, from government and military to commercial and faith-based entities,” said Bonnie Dunn, WVSU extension specialist, who is assisting Wamsley with the project.

Additional phases involve developing a local team to raise awareness and exploring ways to address and effectively reduce behavioral health incidences.

“Ultimately, this project will help us determine to what degree these issues exist in our region and develop a plan for addressing them,” said Dunn.

CAPE is a collaborative effort among the Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a number of land-grant universities.

Surveys will be distributed via email to selected agencies. For more information or to be added to the survey list, contact Wamsley at (304) 766-5240 or wamsleyb@wvstateu.edu.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multigenerational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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