New Horizons is a Seattle-based non-profit organization that serves to aid homeless youth in the greater Seattle area, with an end goal of ending youth homelessness in Seattle and King County. New Horizons has been operating since 1978 and has reached out to homeless youth of all different backgrounds in order to meet their basic needs and help transition them into a stable living environment. (New Horizons, 2016). This type of work requires staff and volunteers to be able to accommodate a wide range of cultural backgrounds, lifestyle habits, and crucially, individuals with differing mental health states and disabilities.
Our project was created to help prepare new employees at New Horizons to address a mental health crisis when a community member is experiencing one. A wide range of stimuli can cause mental health crisis; these triggers often include an increase in stress, illness, change in environment, or trauma- four things that homeless youth experience often. (What does a mental, 2018). This predisposes homeless youth and puts them at a higher risk of experiencing mental health crisis, increasing the need for the staff at New Horizons to feel prepared to address the crisis when one is experienced. Our product is a training program aimed to educate new hires at New Horizons on the topic of mental health crisis. Our program will cover how to identify the different stages of a crisis, and most importantly, how to best promote safety for the individual experiencing the crisis as well as others sharing the space.
Activities with Rationale
Over a nine-week period, our group met on Wednesdays for a total of 72 hours of work time to create our product. Each workday consisted of a short meeting to get our bearings for the day ahead. We would then divide the work between our members and set goals that we intended to achieve within the 8-hour window. The work was divided up into different categories such as research, PowerPoint design, and completing supplemental documents like weekly summaries and this executive summary. Our group was intentional in setting clear goals and expectations of each member, as in-person work time was limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. This means that we all knew what was expected of us and took initiative to complete our tasks on our own. Our group focused most of our time on our research, finding quality peer-reviewed resources that were based on evidence. This was a priority of ours as this product is going out into the field. Putting unreliable information in this product could be detrimental and compromise the safety of both the New Horizons staff as well as the young adults who require their services.
Our project takes the form of a one-hour interactive PowerPoint presentation including lecture material, case studies, and demonstrations to give examples for the new employees. We were intentional in including different forms of information in order to keep our presentation engaging and to tailor our information to different learning styles. Our focus is to provide a comprehensive learning program that adequately prepares the newly hired employees at New Horizons to handle mental health crises, while also being concise enough to be digestible. We recognize that this is likely the employee’s only opportunity to engage this type of material so we wanted to make sure that we convey it in a way that will be the impactful and long-lasting. We also made sure to provide follow-up information in form of a resource reference. This is a list of available resources that can be printed out and given to the employees of New Horizons and used as a reference following a mental health crisis. This will have brief descriptions of each resource and the corresponding phone number to call. This will expedite the follow-up process and make a clear pathway for the employee to follow based on the situation.
Our overarching goal with this presentation was to use our research and understanding of mental health crisis management to help equip New Horizons staff members to provide the youth and young adults with safety and help that they require. We found during our research that this material is not very accessible to the general public. All our reliable sources were found through our university-affiliated databases- something that many would not have access to. Making this information more accessible both to the staff and the community members will contribute to a greater feeling of safety and community at New Horizons, building trust between each party involved. In the end, our presentation was meant to fill a need for New Horizons, enable them to continue giving their community a high level of care, and help them to feel confident and prepared when faced with the complex topic of mental health crisis.
New Horizons Ministries. (2016). Retrieved from https://nhmin.org/
What does a mental health crisis look like? (September 13, 2018). Retrieved from
Leonard, Adrienne; Lim, Seanghai; Booth, Emma; McCaulou, Jaeger; and Fukuoka, Saori, "Mental Health Training" (2021). Nursing Leadership in Community Engagement Projects. 7.
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