Collaborative Approaches to Well-Being in Rural Communities
- Need: To improve mental health and well-being in rural Texas.
- Intervention: The Hogg Foundation has awarded $4.5 million in grants to support five rural Texas communities in developing collaborative approaches to mental health that best fit each community's needs.
- Results: Five community collaboratives are at the "formation" stage of building a strong coalition. Baseline assessments have been conducted of each collaborative, and community members are now considering next steps.
According to the Hogg Foundation's A Guide to Understanding Mental Health Systems and Services in Texas (2016), 81.1% of counties in Texas were considered full or partial Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) for mental health in 2015. In addition, 185 counties out of 254 in the state did not have a psychiatrist, 149 did not have a licensed psychologist, and 40 did not have a licensed social worker.
Even communities with available mental health services face barriers to care such as stigma, structural disparities for minority groups, and lack of public transportation.
The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health is taking a different approach to addressing these barriers, through Collaborative Approaches to Well-Being in Rural Communities (WRC). Instead of dictating how its funding should be spent, the foundation works with grantees to support community-driven solutions that align with each community's unique needs and strengths.
The foundation has awarded $4.5 million over three years to nonprofit, governmental, and higher education organizations in rural Texas in order to address the root causes of poor mental health. The project period consists of an initial planning phase followed by an implementation plan.
The following organizations have received Hogg Foundation grants:
The grantees are bringing together community stakeholders, especially historically marginalized groups, to create a new collaborative or build on existing work:
- Alliance for Greater Works, as project coordinator, is providing capacity-building trainings, technical assistance, community-based participatory evaluation, and other resources to support the five community grantees.
- Bastrop County Cares is developing a Community Resilience Coalition to identify causes of mental health disparities and develop solutions.
- Community Action Corporation of South Texas is creating the Behavioral and Health Outreach Leadership Development (BHOLD) Project, which will foster a culture of community engagement across socio-demographic lines and select one or more action strategies based on community input.
- Northeast Texas Community College is using community-based participatory research to improve its community's well-being and resilience.
- Stephen F. Austin State University is using appreciative inquiry, a community-based participatory action research method, for a bottom-up approach to identify community strengths and leverage them to bring about change.
- The Victoria County Public Health Department is using the Be Well Victoria Collaborative to make sure that traditionally excluded groups are involved in health and well-being initiatives.
In December 2018, the WRC Learning Team completed baseline assessments for each of the five collaboratives. The assessments were used to determine the stage of development of the collaboratives as they begin their work, describe the community context within which each collaborative is working, and identify strengths and potential challenges.
To date, all five collaboratives have either held or plan to hold meetings in their communities to discuss the baseline assessment results. Community members were invited to learn about the collaboratives' work, discuss issues related to resilience and well-being, and offer ideas.
In a 2018 Hogg Foundation podcast interview with Dennis Mohatt, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) Center for Rural Mental Health Research director, Mohatt recommended the following principles for funders working in rural communities:
- Remember that influence occurs through working with individuals, not groups.
- Ask stakeholders who else should be part of the conversation or planning process.
- Build trust so that stakeholders feel comfortable talking about something as traditionally stigmatized and private as mental health.
In addition, some common themes emerged from the baseline assessments:
- Collaborative members want to be more informed about mental health and mental health-related stigma.
- Collaboratives need to develop communication strategies to help community members understand the purpose of the initiative and offer the right incentives for community members to participate.
- Communities will need to work with any skepticism, mistrust, and histories of systemic racism in order for their collaborative to move forward.
- Collaboration is new to many community members, and some residents and leaders may be resistant to change.
- Community partners may be working under different definitions of "collaborative" — for instance, defining themselves as a community collaborative but functioning more as a networking group.
Networking and collaboration
February 8, 2019
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2019. Collaborative Approaches to Well-Being in Rural Communities [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/1048 [Accessed 29 July 2021]
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.