Community Engagement Public Health

OCHI and FCH make an impact on Oregonians’ well-being and the state’s workforce

Oregon State’s OCHI and FCH are addressing the community’s mental health.

By Kathryn Stroppel

The Oregon State University Center for Health Innovation (OCHI), housed in the College of Health, is partnering with OSU Extension and Family Health on the Coast to Forest Mental Health Promotion and Substance Use Prevention Program (C2F), to provide Spanish language mental health first aid training.

Primeros Auxilios de Salud Mental (PASM), which was born from a collaboration with the community-led coalition Juntos en Colaboración in Lincoln County, so far has trained 24 online participants.

In addition to helping deliver the PASM curriculum, OCHI and C2F recently convened Community Conversations in Columbia and Union counties to address those communities’ mental health and substance use needs. C2F also recently launched its web library, and its Substance Use Disorders 101 online course has trained over 200 participants. This course explores the roots of substance use disorders (SUDs), as well as evidence-based practices to address SUDs along the spectrum of prevention.

Allison Myers, associate dean for extension and engagement and Family and Community Health program leader, plays a key role in C2F and in July watched as Gov. Tina Kotek signed Senate Bill 955, which funds an Agristress Helpline to provide mental health aid for agricultural workers.

Pictured l-r are Grant County Commissioner Jim Hamsher, Rep. Bobby Levy, Sen. Lynn Findley, Gov. Tina Kotek, Rep. Mark Owens, Sen. Bill Hansell, Allison Myers, Wallowa County Commissioner Todd Nash. 

Allison helped shepherd the bill to completion and is pictured with Grant County Commissioner Jim Hamsher, Gov. Kotek, Wallowa County Commissioner and Oregon Cattlemen’s Association President Todd Nash, and other elected officials.

Unique to OCHI are workforce development programs, including the Community Health Worker Training Program, which so far has trained 398 community health workers (CHWs). This year, with funding from the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, the program trained 16 veterans to become CHWs, and the team developed a CHW continuing education course on veterans’ health.

OCHI faculty also are working with The Peaceful Presence Project serving central and rural Eastern Oregon to develop another continuing education course on palliative care and launched Spanish-English Health Care Interpreter Training with a generous gift from the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization.

This OHA-approved training program prepares participants to become qualified or certified health care interpreters in Oregon. So far, 30 students have registered for the course, and 15 students are already on the OHA Registry as Qualified Health Care Interpreters.