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Community Health Workers Play Crucial Role in Pandemic’s Mental Health Aftermath

Community Health Workers Play Crucial Role  in Pandemic’s Mental Health Aftermath

National efforts, including May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, aim to raise awareness of those living with mental or behavioral health issues and reduce the stigma so many experience. Unfortunately, despite this national spotlight, mental and behavioral health remains critical and frequently unaddressed matters in racial and ethnic minority communities, leading to dire consequences including longer hospitalizations, more emergency room visits, and even greater mortality. One way to address inequities and improve patient care is to increase patients’ access to Community Health Workers who are trained to work within their communities, where they promote healthy living and act as a key connector between patients and their care providers. 

Community Health Workers, or CHWs, are identified by the World Health Organization as a key resource to providing basic health services for underserved areas. Despite the enormous impact and influence these workers have on communities, demand for Community Health Workers, particularly those with a behavioral health background, is at an all-time high. In light of the pandemic, economic turmoil, and civil unrest that has plagued the country, people are turning to mental health and wellness resources at increasing rates, but the sector lacks the workforce to adequately support them. 

Futuro Health’s new, tuition-free Community Health Worker with Behavioral Health Program seeks to close this gap by training more CHWs who will bring compassionate care into traditionally underserved communities. 

“Studies show that time and time again, one of the best ways to improve health outcomes in communities is to ensure that the medical professionals are representative of those communities,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, CEO of Futuro Health. “That’s why Futuro Health places such critical importance in helping students get a tuition-free education so that they can provide meaningful service to their community, in roles that are in-demand, stable, and impactful.”

Working at the community level to promote healthy living brings the greatest health benefits to the greatest number of people. It also helps to reduce health gaps caused by differences in income, education, race and ethnicity, location and other factors that can affect health. Futuro Heath’s program not only supports underserved communities from the output, but the input as well, as most of Futuro Health students are from underserved or underrepresented communities. The result is a symbiotic environment, where Community Health Workers not only serve their communities but represent their communities. This is an important aspect in improving health outcomes.

“We do a lot with lifestyle practices, recognizing that chronic diseases are often about a lack of resources and poverty and a direct correlation with the social determinants of health,” said Karissa Moreno, a Community Health Worker who shares her experience in a new Futuro Health video. “We really empower individuals with the power and tools so they can thrive.” 

Futuro Health’s CHW with Behavioral Health program covers all the standards and requirements to position workers for success in the field. With a lens on racial, ethnic, and societal disparities, the program is particularly impactful in preparing students to help people who suffer from diabetes, heart disease, trauma, anxiety, depression, substance use and other conditions.

Moreover, students who complete Futuro Health’s CHW with Behavioral Health program graduate debt-free and have unparalleled support to be placed in fulfilling, high paying jobs immediately upon graduation. Futuro Health is actively enrolling CHW students throughout the summer. For more information on how to apply, click here.