North Dakota Rural Behavioral Health Network
April 30, 2012
Prepared by Susan Rae Helgeland, Project Director
The mission of the North Dakota Rural Behavioral Health Network (NDRBHN) is to improve access to behavioral health care and eliminate behavioral health disparities in rural and tribal communities in North Dakota. Its vision is that rural, frontier, and tribal residents of North Dakota will have access to equitable and quality behavioral health services regardless of age, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, religion, or income. NDRBHN began May, 2011 with seven original partners: Mental Health America of North Dakota (MHAND; Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara Nation (MHA Nation); Coal Country Community Health Clinic (CCCHC); North Dakota Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health (FFCMH); the North Dakota Area Health Education Center (NDAHEC); Essential Health; and Sakakawea Critical Care Hospital.
Three of the organizations partnered to create a documentary, Resolana: Voice of the People, with service providers and consumers of the MHA Nation Behavioral Health CLINIC AND CCCHC, that described the barriers to access behavioral health services for residents in rural and tribal communities. They invited the other organizations to join them to create the NDRBHN to begin solving the needs and gaps identified in the documentary.
To address behavioral health needs and gaps in services, the NDRBHN established three goals:
- Develop and maintain successful rural behavioral health network
- Create change at the state level
- Improve access to behavioral health services.
Lack of coordination of services was identified as one need. The development of partnerships is a critical strategy for increasing access to behavioral heal services and reducing health disparities. Strategies employed by the NDRBHN to achieve goal three are the delivery of two curricula: Mental Health First Aid and Bridging Cultures.
The development of the network began with the creation of its Governance Committee. Advisory Council members have been identified and invited to the first meeting in April 2013. Mental Health First Aid, a 12-hour raining regarding identification of behavioral health issues and referral strategies, has been offered to over 150 individuals. Bridging Cultures, developed to increase health care provider's knowledge regarding cultural competency practices of tribal communities, has been offered to non-native providers on two ND reservations: MHA Nation and Turtle Mountain.
Initial activities such as presenting testimony to the legislature regarding Medicaid Expansion and the support of a comprehensive statewide behavioral health interim study have occurred. We are happy to report that both bill have passed.
Organizational Development, Education, and Finance/Sustainability Committees have been set up and are meeting monthly. An Outreach Committee is in the process of being organized. The Governance Committee has recently approved the NDRBHN Bylaws.
Our web page is finished: www.ndrbhn.org. A business plan and communications plan, including social media, are currently in progress.
Resolana: Voice of the People was viewed on Prairie Public television several times.
NDRBHN is in the process of developing a four-hour online opportunity to particial in the Bridging Cultures curriculum. Nursing and Social Work CEUs will be offered.
We receive the 2013 National Association of Counties (NACo) Rural Health Technical Assistance award. This will help us accomplish the following goals:
- Analyzing and quantifying the value of the overall economic impact of the behavioral health and health care sector on North Dakota, especially in rural primary care settings, including community health centers.
- Facilitating the strengthening of relationships with statewide partners to improve behavioral health care delivery.
- Providing assessments of behavioral health services utilization patterns, including patterns between tribal and rural communities, to determine how the behavioral health and health care system can better meet needs.
NDRBHN will only success when we develop strategies and products that meet perceived needs. One part of that process is identifying the economic impact of the behavioral health sector in rural North Dakota, where much of the provision of behavioral health services occurs in primary care settings. Quantifying the impact will assist with planning, networking, and evaluation.
No venue has ever existed for providers, consumers, and family members; local and statewide leaders; public and private providers; and people concerned about the behavioral health issues in rural ND to come together to solve behavioral health disparities. Now there is a venue: the ND Rural Behavioral Health Network. ND is a small state and yet we often do not talk to each other. The NDRBHN provides mechanism for sharing information and resources. We will move forward quickly with key statewide stakeholders in advocacy, health, behavioral health, public health, and government.
A successful structure must be developed to engage the stakeholders' participation for the long run. We are excited and look forward to reporting back to you next year with even more exciting news about the NDRBHN!