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Four States, Four Projects, One Mission: Collectively Enhancing Mental and Behavioral Health Capacity Throughout the Gulf Coast

Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Jennifer PhD; Osofsky, Howard MD; Osofsky, Joy PhD; Rohrer, Glenn PhD; Rehner, Timothy PhD

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: November/December 2017 - Volume 23 - Issue - p S11–S18
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000661
Practice Report: Practice Full Report

Context: The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill triggered numerous concerns regarding the health and well-being of citizens within the already vulnerable Gulf Coast region. Four Mental and Behavioral Health Capacity Projects (MBHCPs) united to form the Quad-State MBHCP component of the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program (GRHOP). Their shared mission was to increase mental and behavioral health (MBH) capacity within coastal counties of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle.

Objective: To describe strategies used to collectively enhance the impact of the 4 state-specific MBHCPs and to share lessons learned from a multistate collaborative flexibly designed to meet a shared mission.

Materials and Procedures: Archival materials were assessed. They included attendance sheets/notes from regularly scheduled group meetings, GRHOP quarterly and annual reports, and state-specific MBHCP logic models. Nationally available data on MBH services provided in project-relevant primary care sites were also examined.

Results: Three strategies were found to be effective facilitators of collective success: (i) reciprocal participation in the backbone organization (GRHOP); (ii) creation and comparison of state-specific MBHCP logic models and activities; and (iii) cross-fertilization among the MBHCP state-specific logic models, a unified Quad-State, and the GRHOP-wide logic model to generate additional synergistic endeavors and measureable outcomes. Examples of region-wide MBHCP success, such as uptake in integrated health services in health care clinics across the jurisdiction of investment, are presented.

Conclusions: Isolated approaches to complex issues are, at times, ineffective. The Collective Impact (CI) model, with an emphasis on coordination among existing organizations, stakeholders, and the public, can serve as a guidepost to facilitate sustainable change even when used in a modified form. Strategies discussed herein for maximizing the 5 prescribed CI conditions provide an important roadmap for how to interface among multidisciplinary projects seeking to address the same, large-scale public health problem.

Gulf Coast Behavioral Health and Resiliency Center, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama (Dr Langhinrichsen-Rohling); Departments of Psychiatry (Drs H. Osofsky and J. Osofsky) and Pediatrics (Dr J. Osofsky), Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, Louisiana; MBHCP-Florida, University of West Florida, Pensacola, Florida (Dr Rohrer); and School of Social Work University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi (Dr Rehner).

Correspondence: Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling, PhD, Gulf Coast Behavioral Health and Resiliency Center, University of South Alabama, 600 Clinic Dr, Mobile, AL 36608 (jlr@southalabama.edu).

The authors acknowledge the contributions of the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program (GRHOP) Coordinating Committee and members of each Quad-State Mental and Behavioral Health Capacity Project (MBHCP). Activities of the 4 Quad-State MBHCPs would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of their staff. All of the MBHCPs are funded by the GRHOP. The Gulf Region Health Outreach Program was developed jointly by BP and the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee as part of the Deepwater Horizon Medical Benefits Class Action Settlement, which was approved by the U.S. District Court in New Orleans on January 11, 2013, and became effective on February 12, 2014. The Outreach Program is supervised by the court and is funded with $105 million from the Medical Settlement. Project leaders of the MBHCP are the authors of this article. However, each project's contribution was made possible through the collective efforts of Candice Selwyn, Heather Finnegan, and Cory Wornell, University of South Alabama; Tonya Hansell, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center; Michele Brazeal, University of Southern Mississippi; and Elizabeth Arthur, University of West Florida.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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