If a community assessment reveals that there are underutilized services that people don’t know about, it makes sense to target communications to potential service users to promote those resources. However, if the problem is ineffective care within local health systems, other efforts may be a higher priority; for example, providing training for providers and advocating for a whole-systems approach to suicide care.
Example. Let’s say School A has good system for referring students to community mental health services, but focus groups reveal that teachers are unclear about how the system works and their role. In response, Local Agency A develops outreach materials and a website tailored for those teachers with guidance about when and how to make referrals. Across the country, Local Agency Z sees the materials and website and loves them. However, their local assessment finds the opposite problem: School Z teachers already understand how to make referrals, but the system itself is not working smoothly. In this case, Community Z would be wasting money if they adopted Community A’s teacher education materials because their assessment revealed a different need. In fact, the problem they’ve identified is a systems problem, not a communications gap, and they should focus their resources on fixing the referral system before publicizing it further.
The Framework for Successful Messaging is a project of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
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The Action Alliance is supported by grants (1 U79 SM059945; 3 U79 SM059945) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). No official endorsement by SAMHSA or DHHS for the information on this website is intended or should be inferred.
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