Healthy Conversations: Supporting Patients with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Issues

Updated: August 24, 2016

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By Julie Barnes

Are you looking for:

– Ways to help get your stuck clients into behavioral health care?

– Strategies to talk non-judgmentally with clients about their substance use or mental health?

– Mental health education tools in plain English that integrate mind, body, and spirit?

Healthy Conversations is an interactive curriculum for Community Health Workers, Peers, Case Managers, and Counselors serving people dealing with mental health and/or substance abuse issues. The guide offers a jumping off point for client-centered dialogue to promote greater client behavioral health, knowledge, and empowerment. Written by mental and public health professionals, primary care doctors, psychiatrists, and community health workers together, the curriculum is designed to help front-line staff at clinics or community organizations feel more confident and skillful at addressing underlying behavioral health issues that diminish their client’s wellness, stability, and quality of life.

The guide includes respectful mental health & substance use education, assessment of barriers to care, cultivating strengths, holistic strategies for managing symptoms and triggers, and conversations to build readiness for treatment. Rooted in harm reduction, it aims to build a trusting framework for collaboration between worker and client towards the goals of safer behavior and better self-care by at-risk clients. The guide is flexible: conversations can happen in order or according to what’s most relevant to a given client. It strives to be culturally competent for use with diverse populations, including starting with open questions to learn about the client, rather than positioning the worker as expert.

For further information on this training material, please contact Julie Barnes, LMHC, at sameboatconsulting@gmail.com.