For this week’s Five Questions With, Cassandra Crumpton, Community Prevention Specialist with Sweetwater Prevention Management, answers questions about prevention in Sweetwater County.
1.What are the responsibilities of Sweetwater Prevention Management?
I am employed by a statewide non-profit agency that works to build community collaboration and resources to address high risk needs, focusing on the areas of alcohol misuse, opioid misuse, tobacco cessation and suicide prevention. I work with local stakeholders and create a strategic plan for our community based on local data work to mitigate those risks by implementing environmental evidence based interventions.
Historically, data has shown that if we step in and intervene before a situation, problem or condition worsens we can prevent many negative things from occurring and the most impactful use of resources is to address the environment in which the risk exists. Studies show that every single $1 spent on prevention, before a problem or risk is allowed to worsen, that you ultimately save $5 long term. This is what our work is all about. We aim to create sustainable long-term positive outcomes in the communities in which we live.
2. What training opportunities do you offer?
I am certified to facilitate two suicide prevention/postvention training courses. The first is called Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) and it is a gatekeeper training that educates any person over the age of 15 to recognize signs of potential suicide crisis, gives them language to ask a person if they are in crisis and how to refer and support an individual to seek help. QPR can be completed in 2 hours and for some professionals we can provide 2 free CEU credit hours.
The second training is called CONNECT. CONNECT is different from QPR in that it is a program to teach cross sections of the community how to respond after a loss of life to suicide, to support the survivors of that loss, which mitigates the risk of those survivors to experience a suicide crisis themselves. This is called postvention. Sweetwater County is ready for CONNECT training, and I am very excited to be able to bring this valuable program to my community.
PMO also works hard to support and host various other training opportunities in our community and across the state including supporting our local TIPS (Responsible Beverage Server Training) trainers by renewing licensing, offering scholarships for new trainers and covering expenses for the materials so they can be provided at no cost to individuals or local businesses. We also facilitate Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA), and have even sponsored two Rock Springs Police Officers to attend a train the trainers program called In Harm’s Way so that our law enforcement can have specialized training related to suicide prevention in the work they do locally. We host data summits to help educate community members and partners on existing and new data regarding our prevention work both locally and across the state.
Mental Health is such an important piece of all of the primary prevention focused work PMO facilitates in our communities across the state. Data indicated that people who are struggling with substance use disorders may have an underlying mental health issue that may not have ever been identified or successfully treated or in some cases is constantly progressing or changing which makes treatment difficult as well. The rural nature of our fabulous state can be a double edged sword when we look at ease of access to mental health care providers. This can be compounded by severe weather in the winter and many other things. Many times, people struggle with the stigma connected to mental health and fall into the belief that it is “weak” to seek help. I’m here to shout from the top of White Mountain or maybe Pilot Butte if I could be really loud, that when people reach out to seek help that is the strongest and most brave thing I’ve ever seen. It is not easy to feel vulnerable or “different” than what you perceive to be the norm. There is nothing wrong with seeking help. You aren’t alone and you really do matter.
4. How can people get involved with prevention management?
We always can benefit from participation of community members who are passionate about being a part of positive change in our county. If you’d like to become a member of a local coalition or volunteer for a community event get a hold of me (firstname.lastname@example.org) ! We have a Facebook page called Sweetwater County Prevention in which we try to keep up on resources, related stories, or local events, so give us a like so our posts pop up in your feed or check out our webpage for local and national resources and more information about local interventions. https://www.facebook.com/SWCountyPreventionCoalition/ http://sweetwaterpmo.org/
PMO receives grant money through the Wyoming Department of Health– whom I lovingly refer to as my grant-overlords (They totally know I call them that). Our working relationship with WDH is significant because it allows us access to some of the best prevention based data in the country and continually advances our primary prevention work to utilize best practices and evidence based interventions to create positive change.
Recently, after a tough legislative session for many programs, PMO received a significant cut in budget– forcing the elimination of many positions like mine across the state and no longer allow us to maintain physical office space that is paid for out of our budget, as well as completely eliminated funding for county based suicide prevention work save two prevention positions at a state level. We have been EXTREMELY fortunate that our great partners with the Episcopal Diocese Foundation recognize that Wyoming is currently 2nd in the nation for suicide deaths and understand that it is vital to continue to build on the strong suicide prevention foundation that has been laid out across our state to date. Our partners with the Episcopal Diocese Foundation graciously earmarked about $100,000 to support ongoing suicide prevention training opportunities across the state. The Eagle Riders from Sweetwater #2350 Fraternal Order of Eagles have donated funds for suicide prevention efforts in Sweetwater County raised by their Poker Runs and other events consistently for the last 4 years, if not longer. We are extremely humbled and grateful for every bit of support we receive from the community to continue to do things we know work in Sweetwater County and can save lives.