By News

From left: Marti Smith, RN, Nurse Care Manager for Primary Behavioral Health Care Integration; Kathy Rogers, RN, Program Director for Health Care Homes/Wellness; Cory Elsinger, Prevention Specialist; and Nick Cook, Prevention Services Program Director.

An award recently presented to PFH Prevention Services serves as a testament to the hard work and efforts of the staff to save lives in the communities they serve. Prevention Services, which covers 27 counties in northern Missouri, works with communities to provide education and support to help fight substance use disorders, particularly among children and teens. Funding is provided by the Missouri Division of Behavioral Health.

Prevention Services was awarded the Outstanding Community Service award by the Missouri Community Action Network (MOCAN). PFH was nominated by the award by the Northeast Missouri Community Action Agency (NECAA), based in Kirksville, MO.

“We were excited to learn we won this award, especially because our focus has been on building partnerships with agencies such as this one,” said Cory Eslinger, PFH Prevention Specialist. “We had conducted a Youth Mental Health First Aid Training with NECAA, and educated them about our Wellness Clinic, which includes training in smoking cessation and carbon monoxide testing.”

The Youth Mental Health First Aid Training involves teaching participants about the signs and symptoms of mental illness in children and teens, and how to recognize the difference between normal adolescent behavior and behavior that could be warning signs of mental illness or suicidal tendencies, Eslinger explained.

He noted that the community action agency comes in contact with numerous individuals and families through their service offerings, and this training will allow them to help identify those clients who may need treatment or help.

“The partnership gives these agencies a tool they can use to identify clients who may be suffering from mental health or substance use disorders,” Eslinger said. “These clients are then referred to programs that can assist them.”

Eslinger noted that their focus in Prevention Services is on youth because they believe that if they can get teens to understand the dangers associated with alcohol and drug use, they can be empowered with information they can carry in to their adulthood.

The development of community coalitions is one of the primary ways Prevention Services helps communities. These coalitions are a network of volunteers from the community whose focus is on prevention of alcohol, tobacco and drug use. Prevention Services staff helps these groups by providing organization assistance, education, and development of prevention strategies.

“It is really a big deal to us to be recognized with this award in our community, and to see that our work is making a difference,” Eslinger said. “The theme of the MOCAN Conference was ‘Better Together’ and this award really signifies this. By partnering with other community agencies, such as NEMCAA, we are creating an everlasting relationships that will benefit both of our organizations as we move forward.”