Coalitions focus on mental health, community support

GRANT COUNTY – Kayla Isaacson and Megan Watson are coalition specialists working to prevent substance abuse and empower youth in Grant County communities.

“The idea is that everything the coalition does is super tailored to the community we’re in, so we’ll often see big differences in the specific goals we’re working on and the strategies we’re working on.” work. re use to get there,” said Watson.

Isaacson is the coalition coordinator for the Soap Lake Prevention Coalition and Watson is the same for the Moses Lake Community Coalition. Watson previously spent two years with the Quincy Partnership for Youth.

While Isaacson and Watson serve separate communities, many of their goals and strategies are the same.

In both Soap Lake and Moses Lake, the coalitions focused on tobacco, alcohol and other drug use and mental health in the community.

Soap Lake has a strong focus on reducing positive attitudes towards underage drug use, reducing youth access to alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and building rejection and resilience.

Moses Lake focuses on academic achievement, crime, suicide prevention, and negative childhood experiences.

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Watson explained that healthy coping skills are important and have a significant impact on substance use, particularly in adolescence.

“Kids don’t start consuming without a purpose,” Watson said. “There’s usually something behind it, and it’s our job to really look for the causes of it, and a lot of that has to do with coping skills.”

Much of what Watson and Isaacson are doing to curb substance use and create healthier communities has to do with awareness. Among other things, they provide the following information:

  • Emotional self-regulation tools
  • Family Communication Courses
  • Media campaigns to promote healthy coping skills and open
  • Conversations about alcohol, tobacco and drugs
  • Community Education Workshops

While they provide lots of information on a variety of topics related to general well-being, they also need to find out what their individual communities are struggling with and what would help them overcome those challenges, and do it in a way that is accessible to them.

“One of the things you always have to keep in mind when implementing strategies in the community is what are the barriers our community is facing?” said Watson.

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She explained that barriers can encompass more than just economic status and racial equality, it can also be things like transportation and access to the internet.

One way to make their material more accessible is to provide the material in print and media, as well as English, Spanish and Russian versions.

Watson and Isaacson both said that figuring out which strategies are working in their respective communities is no easy task and that they are constantly re-evaluating the things they are doing. They explained that a major obstacle is not having as much community involvement as they would like. Without feedback and support from their respective communities, they have a harder time figuring out what is most receptive in the communities and how their communities want the coalitions to be viewed. The biggest goal, they said, is to help these coalitions be self-sufficient and important parts of the communities in which they are located.

“I think our overarching goal is really just to provide a place for people to come together and share ideas, concerns and resources, and to encourage that collaboration between community members and organizations and other key leaders from other communities in Grant County encourage,” he told Isaacson.

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Ultimately, Watson and Isaacson said they are passionate about their work and are just a bridge and resource for a community to come together and do their part in creating a healthier future for everyone across the country.

“We focus on each specific community and their needs, desires and goals, but at the same time, as a county, as a state, as a nation, we have an overarching goal and mission: healthy youth, communities and families,” Isaacson said. “And I think the more coalitions that work toward those goals, the more consistent and hopefully greater the chance that things will go the way we want them to.”

Contact the coalitions

Soap Lake Prevention Coalition on Facebook:

Moses Lake Community Coalition on Facebook:

or email the coordinators at:

[email protected]

[email protected]

Rebecca Pettingill can be reached at [email protected]. For more coverage, download the Columbia Basin Herald app – available for iOS and Android devices.



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