Community Level Health Project (CLHP) – Springfield is administered by the Public Health Institute of Western MA (PHIWM) and comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders from the catchment area of the Springfield Casino, which includes a Youth Mental Health Advisory Board comprised of youth, city officials, mental health professionals, community action organizations, neighborhood associations, and non-profits that serve youth. Using the social ecological framework, understanding and elevating that outcomes for individuals are embedded within interpersonal relationships, within the organizations and institutions they interact with, within their communities, and within policy at the national, state, and local levels; the goal of the CLHP is to identify a health priority concern for the catchment area and make a data-driven and community-prioritized recommendation to MDPH for how to address gambling-related problems. The project also uses a modified “4 P” program planning framework used originally by the Active Living by Design, a national program. In this framework, the “p’s” stand for preparation and program management, programs, promotion, and policy and practice change.
Priority Health Concern: Improving youth behavioral health with a focus on mental health.
Priority Population: Youth.
Strategies to Address Priority Health Concern:
A community-wide social marketing campaign with a goal of decreasing discrimination and prejudice around behavioral health problems and seeking help that can keep young people and their families from seeking treatment (specific focus on lower income neighborhoods of color and smaller events led by youth).
A focus on the public-school environment in Springfield Public Schools, implementing social and emotional learning, and incorporating a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTTS) for students. MTSS identifies needs and strengths of all students, optimizing data-driven decision-making, progress monitoring, and use of evidence-based supports and strategies with increasing intensity based on student’s needs.
Universal Behavioral Health Screening: Universal screening of all students allows for early identification of students who may need additional behavioral support. This strategy involves training school nurses to screen for and respond effectively to students’ internalizing and externalizing behavioral health issues.
Professional Development and ongoing technical assistance for teachers, staff, administrators, parents, afterschool programs, and early education sites on how to recognize signs of mental health distress and how to respond through trainings such as Mental Health First Aid. Some adults struggle with how to respond when children and youth are having behavioral health issues, whether those issues show up as outright anxiety, stress, depression (internalizing) or as acting out behaviors (externalizing). This professional development will help ensure that their response is supportive and not punishing, addresses the root issues and not only the behavior, and is culturally sensitive and thoughtful.
All interventions are grounded in a health equity framework with intentional cultural responsivity to address the impact that COVID19, the ongoing effects of systemic racism – and of course the casino – have on young people and families’ behavioral health and therefore physical and spiritual health.
If you, or a loved one, are experiencing problems with gambling and need support, call 1.800.327.5050 or visit gamblinghelplinema.org to speak with a trained specialist. Specialists are available 24/7. Services are free, confidential, and available in multiple languages.