West Virginia State University to Lead Study of Behavioral Health in Kanawha County

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363

March 27, 2015
West Virginia State University to Lead Study of Behavioral Health in Kanawha County

INSTITUTE, W.Va. -- West Virginia State University (WVSU) has been awarded a $101,756 grant for a yearlong project studying behavioral health issues in Kanawha County.

WVSU as well as the WVSU Extension Service will collaborate with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture on the Community Assessment and Education to Promote Behavioral Health Planning and Evaluation (CAPE) project. Only nine communities in the country were awarded CAPE Phase II grants.

“Many communities in the United States struggle with behavioral health problems, especially related to issues of substance use and abuse and mental health,” said Dr. Kerri Steele, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at WVSU. “These problems increase in their difficulty by the fact that such issues can vary immensely by location, even in areas nearby to one another.”

Work began in February to bring 30 Kanawha County behavioral health leaders together to participate in biweekly surveys with the goal of being able to create an early warning system for behavioral health issues at the community level.

Such an early warning system would examine community level data on a variety of factors, to be monitored on a regular basis. When the system indicates an increase in one of the mental health or substance abuse areas, an alert is triggered to inform local decision makers who can then work together to execute an intervention.

In addition to Steele, WVSU Social Work Professor Brenda Wamsley and WVSU Extension Specialist Bonnie Dunn are also working on the project.

Michigan State University Professor Scott Loveridge is the director of the CAPE project. During Phase I in 2014, CAPE worked together with the Regional Rural Development Centers and 10 pilot communities across the country, including Kanawha County, to assess how local decision makers obtain and use information about community behavioral health trends. The WVSU Departments of Criminal Justice and Social Work were actively involved in the first CAPE project surveying local leaders and hosting a community forum.

 “We need a better job helping decision-makers get early warning of emerging issues,” Loveridge said of Phase II.

For more information about the CAPE project, visit www.healthbench.info, or follow the CAPE Project on Twitter @healthbench or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/healthbench.info

Follow West Virginia State University on Facebook and Twitter @WVStateU.
West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational 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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