Project ASSIST developed several service delivery options that were innovative for the Fall River community:
Job Services as a Low-Stigma Entry Point into Behavioral Health Supports: As noted, the One-Stop Career Center had been overwhelmed with numerous requests from dislocated workers, many of whom also presented with emotional distress. Having a CRRI representative on-site and available for referral and assistance was cited as invaluable. Job-seeking support also was offered on-site at SSTAR, where project ASSIST offered a Monday morning employment support group. This allowed job seekers to start off the week with a positive, motivating, and encouraging experience. A project staff member with experience with resume writing and interviewing skills began working with most clients enrolled in the program. This Monday morning Job Club continued to be well-attended and valued. Program participants who were experiencing anxiety, depression, and stress from unemployment reported feeling better when focusing on activities related to job attainment. Staff believed that these individuals might not have sought support solely for their emotional distress, but received behavioral health supports by coming into the system through employment-related services.
Case Management as an Innovation: Case management not only helped clients access needed primary or behavioral health services, but also ensured that clients who were screened were not lost to follow-up. Follow-up using this case management approach allowed this CRRI project to reach over 95 percent of participants for 6-month follow-up. The 6-month relationship with a case manager also reportedly helped the participants feel connected to the program.
Outreach and Screening as an Enhancement to Service Delivery: Staff reported they were amazed by the success of the outreach component of the grant. The ASSIST tagline, "There is no shame in asking for help" was a message that was repeated throughout the community; interviewees said that many people reported this important message had motivated them to seek assistance. Staff also noted the effectiveness of reaching out to people where they are located; first, rather than waiting for clients to knock on the SSTAR door, the outreach pulled them in naturally. Second, staff at the screening sites turned out to be important referral resources. This network of referring organizations remains in place after the grant. Finally, as suggested earlier, screening such a large proportion of the city's population (over 5 percent) resulted in a dataset that will be used by the agency for future planning.
In addition, screening at the parks and various community events resulted in outreach to new areas of the community, some with concentrations of poverty. Each event drew a huge crowd and thus was a successful screening opportunity. They also offered struggling families a fun, free, safe event for their children.
Consistent with the SBIRT model, staff found screening to be a great way to identify people starting to struggle with mental health issues or substance use and to offer them help before symptoms worsened.
A unique aspect of Project ASSIST was global outreach. STARR has disseminated the success of the grant at local state, national and international venues. For example, the agency CEO, Nancy Paul, presented the CRRI model at a United Nations Conference in Moscow on November 11, 2011.