Practicing Prevention

teacher and student
Practicing Promotion and Prevention
 
teacher and student
Practicing Prevention

The Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health at the University of Oregon is creating a workforce solution to the challenge of meeting the behavioral health needs of children and youth. Our approach is holistic, in that we address the behavioral health workforce shortage by employing our decades-long faculty and staff expertise in student preparation, community outreach and service, and research and development to create a new profession – the Child Behavioral Health Specialist.

We are not only developing a larger workforce to meet the challenges that children and youth face today; we are preparing a workforce of a different kind – a workforce that possesses deep and broad training in behavioral health promotion and prevention who will be “job ready” upon graduation. Youth.gov, provides a good description of the domains of expertise that our new graduates will bring to the behavioral health workforce.

Promotion is defined as intervening to optimize positive mental health by addressing determinants of positive mental health before a specific mental health problem has been identified, with the ultimate goal of improving the positive mental health of the population. Mental health prevention is defined as intervening to minimize mental health problems by addressing determinants of mental health problems before a specific mental health problem has been identified in the individual, group, or population of focus with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of future mental health problems in the population. Mental health promotion and prevention are at the core of a public health approach to children and youth mental health which addresses the mental health of all children

Examples of behavioral health promotion and prevention services that our graduates will be prepared to deliver will include:

  • Behavioral, emotional, and social skill building programs that promote child and adolescent behavioral health, including fostering good relationships with others, digital media safety and security, and healthy eating, sleep, and exercise routines
  • Programs and practices that address the chronic stress and trauma exposure faced by many children and families due to living in historically and persistently underserved communities, minoritized, rural, immigrant, or impoverished communities, and those dealing with special challenges, disabilities, or differentiated abilities
  • Group and individual evidence-based interventions that are demonstrated to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of mental health disorders for children and adolescents identified with early signs of behavioral or emotional risk
The support of Ballmer Group philanthropy will allow us to address the behavioral health workforce challenge by taking three actions.
 

Preparing

a next-generation workforce of new bachelor’s level practitioners, the Child Behavioral Health Specialist. The undergraduate program, to be launched in the fall of 2023 (pending state approval), will support student access with a $100 Million scholarship endowment provided by Connie and Steve Ballmer. Child Behavioral Health Specialists will be prepared to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation having accumulated over 700 hours of applied training in evidence-based behavioral health promotion, prevention, and care practices. Responding to the request by educators for new techniques and tools for meeting the urgent behavioral health promotion needs of their students, a three-course graduate level certification program for K-12 educators will be launched this fall, 2022.
Delivering
child behavioral health services to partner schools by expanding fair and full access to promotion and prevention services. Fifteen highly trained clinical professor faculty will be hired to design, deliver, and supervise child behavioral health trainees in schools. Students showing evidence of emerging behavioral health challenges on screening measures, or elevated risk, will receive prevention services when they are most effective, and least expensive – when children’s challenges are mild. Child Behavioral Health Specialists will provide group and individual preventive interventions to help children and adolescents reduce their risk for developing a mental health disorder.
Creating
new technologies, products, and services through rigorous research efforts that ensures behavioral health and wellness programs work for all children and adolescents, including those from historically or persistently underserved communities. Ten new tenure-related faculty will be hired to provide national and international leadership in child behavioral health research and development. Capitalizing on the synergies between workforce development and service delivery, new products will be studied thoroughly and disseminated quickly to respond to the urgent needs of children, adolescents, their families, and communities.