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SEAHEC Advances Proyecto Juntos “ Increasing Access to Mental Health Services” – with Collaborative Trainings and Community Engagement

SEAHEC is making significant strides in our NIH funded ComPASS Award- Proyecto Juntos through collaborative training and robust community engagement efforts. We have teamed up with Creative Narrations to plan, organize, and execute digital storytelling training for Community Health Workers (CHWs). This training equipped CHWs with the necessary skills for qualitative data collection activities, enhancing their ability to gather and interpret community health data effectively through story telling. Graduate students from the University of Arizona College of Public Health are contributing to our project by reviewing existing data from county assessments and developing presentations and handouts which will be shared back with community members for their feedback, input and enabling them to have their own data about their own communities.

Herlinda Quiroz , Margarita Elias, Miriam Morales and Lupita Gonzalez

working on their “River of Life” activity

Community engagement is a cornerstone of Proyecto Juntos. Presentations are delivered at local “Health Equity Research Assemblies” or HERA meetings in intervention counties, including Graham, Santa Cruz, and Cochise. For instance, Graham County's local HERA meeting saw significant interest from community organizations, including the local Community College, the Board of Supervisors, and local behavioral health agencies. In Santa Cruz County, meetings at Circles of Peace, a local mental health nonprofit, focused on community health assessments and structural factors contributing to health disparities for example lack of transportation and stigma. Cochise County's local HERA events have provided a platform for discussing progress and barriers in accessing mental health services. These meetings engage community members and foster a dialogue on health equity and potential ways to improve access to needed mental health services.

Proyecto Juntos Project wide Health Equity Research Assembly meeting in Safford, AZ

Training and workshops play a critical role in building the capacity of our local CHW workforce. Trainings have included Mental Health First Aid and training on empathy burnout, ensuring that CHWs are well-prepared to support their communities. Internal team activities focus on epidemiological and environmental assessments, identifying information gaps, reviewing relevant literature and data sources, and drafting assessment reports. Strategic meetings with SEAHEC and NIH help to align project goals and provide updates, reinforcing the collaborative nature of the project.

Proyecto Juntos Project wide Health Equity Research Assembly meeting in Safford, AZ

SEAHEC's efforts in Proyecto Juntos are establishing a solid foundation for improving access to mental and behavioral health services in southern Arizona’s rural communities. The collaborative spirit and dedication of all partners involved are driving significant advancements in training, community engagement, and strategic planning. We are excited to continue making strides in this important work and enhancing health outcomes in our target areas. Stay tuned for more updates as we progress towards designing community-led interventions to increase access to mental health services.



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