Mental Health Resources Focus on UN Pharmacy Student Service Project for Schools Ada
When Ohio Northern University students Joey Sidoti and Megan Breier were tasked with creating a community service project as part of the College of Pharmacy’s Rural and Underserved Health Research Program (RUHSP), they focused on the fact that many young people in the region have mental health problems. problems.
According to the Hardin County Community Health Status Assessment 2018 report, released in July 2019, 16% of youth surveyed said they had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months, 8% said they had actually attempted suicide and 27 % reported feeling so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more that they stopped doing some usual activities.
Still, professional help can be hard to come by here, Sidoti says, relying on long-established statistics. “There is a shortage of mental health care providers in Hardin County” in part because of its rural nature, he pointed out.
“Meg and I are passionate” about this subject, Sidoti says. “In high school, we didn’t learn anything about mental health at all. I know a lot of students have concerns, and there is a stigma. We want to eliminate the stigma of acknowledgment, acknowledgment and access to mental health-related resources, he says.
The result was a project designed to help Ada-exempt village school students, particularly those in secondary school, access mental health resources online. Sidoti, a sixth-year pharmacy student from Warren, Ohio, and Breier, a sixth-year pharmacy student from Plainfield, Illinois, offered educational programs and resources for students to help them recognize and earn help for anxiety, stress, depression and other mental disorders. health concerns. Specifically, they hung posters with a QR code that leads to a long Google Drive list of trusted organizations, Ted Talks, videos, podcasts, parenting resources and more that provide information and ways to get along. connect with mental health care providers. The two also visited the school on several occasions to introduce students and provided brochures which offered “quick and easy reading” and included the QR code, organization websites and helplines.
In addition, the team conducted pre- and post-surveys of seniors to assess their basic mental health knowledge before the project began and after it was launched.
“We tried to find appropriate ways to reach secondary school students,” says Sidoti. “It is in this age group that most mental health problems develop; about 80% of the problems develop then,” but many students rarely talk about it, he argues.
Since the project is based on a free QR code, data regarding the number of users who have accessed it is not available. Sidoti and Breier decided to create a free code so that it could be used in perpetuity rather than as a subscription.
“Every time a student designs a project for our RUHSP program, they need to plan how it can be supported,” says Michelle Musser, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Outreach Program Director at Raabe College of Pharmacy. The goals are not just to help improve the lives of community members, but to do so in a way that they can continue after a project has started.
“Joey and Megan were both interested in not doing something on a whim, on a one-off basis. We wanted a lasting partnership over a longer period of time,” says Emily Eddy, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, noting that the two developed their project over the past two academic years, with their work at Ada High School taking place during the fall ’21 and spring ’22 semesters.
Eddy and Musser are confident that another cohort of rural pharmacy students will not just take over the project, but expand it in a way that will increasingly benefit Ada Schools students as well as other schools in Hardin County.
Sidoti and Breier already have anecdotal evidence that their project has had a positive impact on some students.
“After one of our discussions, we received a few emails from some students asking for help. We referred them to high school guidance counselor Erinn Prater,” says Sidoti.
“Ada Schools has been a great partner,” says Musser.
“Ada High School made it very enjoyable,” notes Sidoti. “The principal and the teachers loved it when we came to present. They welcomed us with open arms. All the students seemed interested and engaged.
Ada High School principal Dan Lee echoed those sentiments of the project relationship, praising Breier and Sidoti for their work and saying he hopes the project continues.
“Erinn Prater and I collaborated with Joey and Megan to help them implement their ideas. Both were very positive and professional. They have always been responsive and timely in their communication. They also did a great job of presenting to our students,” says Lee. “We would love to see this project continue.”
Prater believes the students’ ability to engage with other students has contributed to the success of the projects. “I’m always open to new ideas and ways to reach our students. It was great to have someone younger and closer to the age of our students who is more into the aspect of social media and current platforms,” she points out.
This project also generated another positive outcome: Sidoti was one of only 10 students nationwide to receive the 2022 Public Health Pharmacy Award from the US Public Health Service. USPHS award winners are recognized for their efforts to address today’s public health challenges. He and other recipients were recognized during this year’s Federal Pharmacy Forum program at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting held in San Antonio, Texas.
The RUHSP is a distinct UN pharmacy offering that educates students about the unique challenges of rural health care and trains them to better serve these populations.
“Meeting the health needs of rural and underserved populations is a specialty in itself,” the program explains on its webpage. “These patients face different health issues than city and town dwellers.”
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