A team of students from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service is working with FAITH Network, a collaboration of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and faith organizations in Arkansas. The students are compiling a database of mental health resources including healthcare providers, mental health promotion materials, and educational opportunities currently available to share with faith-based organizations within the state.
One of the goals of the FAITH Network – which stands for Faith-Academic Initiatives for Transforming Health – is to partner with organizations to deliver evidence-based health education programs to communities of faith. The organization serves as a hub of educational resources for faith communities interested in improving the health of their congregations and communities.
The Clinton School team of Katie Clark (Flint, Mich.), Richmond Osei-Danquah (Nkawkaw, Ghana), and Adam Kleinerman (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) is supervised by Keneshia Bryant-Moore, Ph.D., R.N., and associate professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education of the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health.
“One of the interest areas for the FAITH Network is mental health, and we’ve done several educational trainings and summits around emotional wellness and mental health,” Bryant-Moore said. “What has come up time and time again is that people, especially pastors, are saying that they have people coming to the church and they need help, they may be in a crisis, and they don’t know where to refer them.”
The Practicum team’s work is broken into two parts. First, the group is cataloging the mental health database information for Pulaski County. Second, the team is determining how best to get that information into the hands of those who need it.
“So often, we’ll develop these resource guides and they don’t actually get to the people who need them,” Bryant-Moore said.
In addition to health resources within the county, the team spent the fall semester compiling education opportunities such as mental first aid and suicide prevention programs. Since the start of the spring semester, the students have begun interviewing faith leaders and congregants across Pulaski County to determine the best way to disseminate the information.
“We want to know how faith leaders prefer to receive information and how congregants want to receive information,” said Clark, who is pursuing a concurrent Master of Public Health at UAMS. “Hopefully there is some overlap.”
The Clinton School students will present their findings in April at the UAMS Community Campus Partnership Conference to address health disparities.
“The conference brings together community members, researchers, and students from across the state,” Bryant-Moore said. “We actually plan to have copies for those who are interested there at the conference.”