Online Program

Neighborhood perceptions of behavioral health: Formative research in designing a community-based counseling program

Monday, November 4, 2013

Elisabeth Stelson, A.B., Perelman School of Medicine, School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Meredith Curtis, BS, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Heather Klusaritz, PhD, MSW, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Background: Access and treatment disparities for behavioral health continue to plague urban African American communities. Increasing access to behavioral health services is critical, and co-locating these services with primary care is increasingly the standard-of-care. Student-run health clinics (SRHCs) are an important component of the primary care safety-net, however, most SRHCs have yet to integrate behavioral health. In order to provide high-quality behavioral health services, it is imperative that clinics match services to the priorities of the community. Purpose: To identify the community perspective on: etiology of behavioral health problems; barriers and facilitators to care; and comfort with a proposed community counseling program staffed by clinical social work students. Methods: This descriptive cross-sectional, mixed-method study surveyed a convenience sample of residents (N=75). Results were analyzed according to age and gender. Salience scores were calculated for free-listing analysis. Results: 84% of residents reported insufficient access to behavioral health services. Lack of insurance and cost of services were identified as the primary access barriers. “Poverty” and “unemployment” were the most salient terms used to describe the etiology of behavioral health problems. 80% of respondents reported feeling comfortable receiving services from a clinical social work student. Family and church programs were sited as primary sources of social support. Conclusions: Significant barriers restrict access to behavioral health care, and counseling services provided by students could be effective in increasing access. Such services should integrate an understanding of salient structural influences of behavioral health and collaborate with local churches to increase social support in the neighborhood.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Program planning
Provision of health care to the public

Learning Objectives:
Assess barriers to behavioral health services in a neighborhood in West Philadelphia. Identify existing sources of social support for residents with behavioral and emotional health concerns. Identify the perceived etiology of behavioral health problems from the perspective of West Philadelphia residents. Assess community comfort with a proposed community counseling program co-located at an existing student-run health clinic.

Keyword(s): Mental Health Services, Access to Health Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Social Work Coordinator at a student-run health clinic in West Philadelphia. I am currently developing the clinic’s co-located community counseling program with the assistance of University of Pennsylvania faculty and community leaders, and I have presented on developing community partnerships at national and international conferences. As a Masters in Social Work and Masters in Public Health candidate, my professional interests focus on increasing access to behavioral health and primary care services.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.