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Rural Health Information Hub

Prevention and Community Education

Mental health conditions and serious mental illness are impacted by a variety of factors. Prevention measures in community settings can help to support individuals at risk of or living with mental health conditions. Community members should be educated about the importance of treatment and prevention.

A report funded by the National Institutes of Health defines prevention as:

“interventions that occur prior to the onset of a disorder that are intended to prevent or reduce risk for the disorder.”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a model of Eight Dimensions of Wellness:

  • Emotional
  • Environmental
  • Financial
  • Intellectual
  • Occupational
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Spiritual

By focusing on improving and maintaining wellness across all of these dimensions, rural communities can prevent negative mental health outcomes and promote recovery for individuals with a mental health condition.

Community education can help to reduce stigma surrounding mental health conditions and promote a positive mental health environment. Training sessions can be formal classes regarding constructive mental health promotion or informal conversations between community members. Change in the perception of mental health often starts with individuals; moves to families, the workplace, and schools; and ends with community leaders who are then equipped to maintain formal and informal community education efforts surrounding mental health.

Program Clearinghouse Examples

Resources to Learn More

How to Talk About Mental Health: For Community and Faith Leaders
Provides opportunities to engage in local community conversations regarding mental health. Also provides pointers for engaging in these important community conversations.
Organization(s): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Prevention and Early Intervention in Mental Health
Outlines the four factors that influence mental health. Also discusses how genetics and brain development influence mental health.
Organization(s): Mental Health America