During the final site visit discussions, interviewees emphasized the need to conduct continual outreach and to share mental health and substance program resources with the wider community. Stigma is pervasive and has prevented many individuals in this community from seeking help for mental health and substance abuse treatment. Through outreach and screening, the project was able to introduce the array of available resources to the people who needed support. Outreach and screening also yield valuable information and data about the community, the population and other referral resources. Hence, funding to conduct outreach and screening will result in data the community can use in the future.
The staff and leadership also have identified the importance of remaining flexible and willing to adjust to the ever changing needs of the city's residents. Staff noted that this capacity to adapt was one of the key lessons from participating in this project. They also noted that it is essential to identify financial supports for building strong collaborative partnerships. Many service delivery agencies have limited resources to allow staff to participate in activities that can help to build and maintain collaborative partnerships; however, this is a critical area for the success of community-wide initiatives.
As noted previously, one of the strengths of the project was the requirement to work closely with the Mayor's Office. This strengthened the existing working relationship and provided an excellent structure for managing the grant and for linking the project with critical political support. This level of networking will be considered an essential element for future initiatives.
In working with the newly unemployed, staff found that many potential clients did not know about resources in the community or how they could access these resources. Using a case management approach helped clients develop a personal relationship with an individual who could facilitate connections with supportive resources in the community. Case managers could also ensure that needed services were actually obtained, and that their clients would not get "lost to the system" as they pursued a successful recovery and employment. In addition, Fall River found that creating stronger links between employment resources and behavioral health programs was beneficial for Project ASSIST clients. In addition, they learned that older people who are not technically skilled had significant difficulty trying to navigate the current online job search methods. The Monday Job Club suggested that individuals who are unemployed and seeking work are greatly benefited by having a connection to others who are in a similar situation.