MEE-Led Workshops

Trauma-Informed Behavior-Change Communications: Tackling Inequities from the Ground Up

Workshop Options:

  • 2-Hour Overview
  • 4-Hour Interactive
  • 6-Hour Intense In-Person
  • All Include Access to Resource Portal

Trauma-Informed Behavior Change Communications is designed so participants learn how to develop trauma-informed and culturally-relevant population-health communications that resonates with low-income communities of color and other oral-communication-based populations and encourages sustainable changes in behaviors and lifestyle. This workshop addresses why traditional forms of health communications may not be cost-effective or culturally-sensitive, and can even be counter-productive to a program’s goals. It also explains how traditional messaging may be insulting to low-income audiences negatively impacted by the social determinants of health.

This session will enhance participants’ behavioral-health communication skills and their ability to build credibility and trusting relationships with their respective target audiences, increasing both impact and effectiveness. Participants will also learn about the unique social determinants of health (including ongoing exposure to stress and trauma) that low-income, vulnerable and under-resourced residents face. Knowing and understanding these determinants will increase empathy and better prepare frontline and outreach staff to build trusting relationships with those who have not previously been well-served by “systems.” The workshop incorporates research-based and community-tested strategies that can be used immediately, even by agencies and organizations that have been struggling to effectively engage the underserved populations that could most benefit from their programs and services.

Key Topics Covered in This Workshop:

Part 1 – MEE’s Message Development Model for Oral-Based Cultures:

What is Behavioral Health Communications?

  • The Health Communications Model Overview: Sender | Message | Channel | Receiver
  • MEE’s Approach to Behavioral Health Communications – Flipping the Model (Right to Left)
    • Starting with the Receiver and the Worldview of the Receiver
    • Understanding the Importance of Oral Communications Culture (OCC) to the Receiver
Part 2 – The Most Culturally-Relevant Messages for the Most Credible and Cost-Effective Delivery Channels for Behavioral Health:

Even though many people now spend hours of each day in front of screens, using their smartphone or online platforms, interpersonal dialogue with peers and others within their social networks is what leads to sustainable behavior-change. Therefore, these days, funded providers, NGOs, non-profits, health practitioners, health departments and behavioral-health agencies must use a combination of digital outreach (high-tech) and on-the-ground encounters (high-touch) to interact persuasively with the low-income communities they serve and hope to engage. Now, the latest technology, whether it is a website, mobile app or a social media platform (and digital still must be culturally-relevant), needs to be paired with what MEE calls “human-ology”—interpersonal (virtual or face-to face) interactions with members of a community.

  • Online (Technology) vs. Offline (Human-ology) Channels
  • Introduction to “Community as a Channel”
  • Message Development that Engages Communities, including Embedding Effective Counter-Arguments to Barriers, Suspicions and Fears
  • Balanced Community-Engagement Messaging that Refers Not Only to Stress & Trauma (Risks), But Also to Resilience, Healing and Recovery (Strengths)
As a result of exploring these topics, participants will:
  • Increase their awareness and understanding of the worldview and specific cultural and communication dynamics of low-income communities of color facing the highest health disparities.
  • Identify key differences between oral-based and literate-based cultures.
  • Understand the importance of “context” and how including it in message development creates/builds trusting relationships with clients who reflect different backgrounds, experiences and worldviews from outreach and other staff at the providers, agencies and programs designed to serve historically mistreated communities.
  • Enhance participants’ communication and outreach skills with vulnerable populations, including low-income BIPOC and LGBTQ+ of color, through practical, community-tested strategies that not only focus on “what to say,” but also “how to say it.”
  • Participate in hands-on, interactive argument/counter-argument exercises to prepare providers for an authentic, and ultimately, effective behavior-change dialogue with families living in marginalized and vulnerable communities.
  • Learn the steps required to develop trauma-informed, culturally relevant messaging and materials, including how to develop messages that embed references to stress & trauma, resilience and healing/recovery, so that they resonate with families and community leaders who live in at-risk environments.
  • Practice how to present street-credible, authentic and culturally relevant information in such a way that lifestyle changes are sustainable in the context of busy, economically-challenged and stressed-out lives.
  • Learn the protective factors that facilitate thriving coping behaviors and “upstream” primary prevention.

Community Engagement Concepts for Countering Trauma, Disparities and Lack of Trust

Workshop Options:

  • 2.5-Hour Overview
  • 4-Hour Interactive
  • 6-Hour Intense In-Person
  • All Include Access to Resource Portal

Authentic, on-the-ground community engagement needs to be part of any public-health, mental-health or human-services provider’s / professional’s Toolbox, even though this approach is often ignored because it is perceived as “too hard” to pull off. MEE will provide an understanding of the importance of community mobilization as a communications channel. The training will address why community engagement is an essential, cost-efficient and more effective approach to engaging and building ongoing relationships with hard-to-reach populations, including those who have been historically mistreated or underserved by government agencies… leading to mistrust, resentment and resistance. Knowing how to engage communities using strategies and tactics that create meaningful, interpersonal dialogue with oral-based cultures will build trust. It will also enhance the key community relationships that will sustain the work needed to face health disparities head on and begin to reduce inequities.

Community engagement and developing grassroots partnerships are core elements of MEE’s approach to behavior change. SAMSHA’s Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) has been adopted by many agencies, community coalitions and academics researchers across the country. MEE adapts the SPF so that it is more culturally relevant to and inclusive of communities who have been mistreated by the systems and institutions that are supposed to serve and assist them. In its more than three decades of working in communities with the highest health disparities, MEE has used and refined its “by-and-for,” community-centered approach, which brings the voices of these community opinion leaders to the table in a respectful manner that acknowledges their worldview, their experiences, and the social and environmental challenges that influence their choices and behaviors. MEE’s intervention development and rollout model applies many of the components in the SPF in a more targeted fashion. In this training, MEE highlights some of the similarities in these community-participatory models, with a focus on describing how MEE’s model provides a strength-based approach to dealing with the daily realities of the marginalized and vulnerable populations, as well as building long-term capacity by putting and leaving skills in the community.

This framing is particularly effective when attempting to engage community members from oral-based cultures. Many residents are skeptical and suspicious, with low levels of confidence even in well-meaning initiatives. While residents often don’t trust institutions, they do trust the grassroots opinion leaders and community-based organizations they interact with on a daily basis. Leveraging these relationships takes time and effort, but can also lead to lasting connections that ultimately result in improved outcomes and community norms.

Many agencies, organizations and coalitions either don’t know how or are struggling to engage trusted community leaders of affected (targeted) communities. People ask MEE all the time, “How are your community engagement tactics different from others in behavioral health?” Of course, “How” is an important piece of the puzzle. But it’s more important to understand the “Why” before the “How.” That is what is explained in detail during this workshop.

Key Topics Covered in This Workshop:

Key Topics:
  • Overview of MEE’s culturally-relevant community outreach and mobilization strategies.
    • Learn why and how to effectively engage community leaders in order to mobilize residents for community-wide dialogue by involving and leveraging numerous access touchpoints.
  • Discuss the negative experiences vulnerable populations have encountered with mainstream institutions (including human-services providers) and how community engagement can work to counter trauma, disparities and lack of trust.
  • A demonstration of how community-engagement models are not just inclusive, but also support long-term sustainability, by creating trusted relationships with community members, but also increasing their own skills/capacity to improve outcomes into the future.
    • Understand how CBOs, non-profits and community/faith leaders can be more culturally-relevant and cost-effective as message senders than mainstream media.
    • Understand why community engagement is critical to the behavior change process for oral-based cultures (OCC) and how to facilitate community dialogue by addressing the community’s daily realities and chronic stressors.
    • Creating a Community Network as a grassroots, community-centered communications channel.
    • Using the Community Network for equipping the community with the tools and skills they need to navigate the system (government agencies).

Every successful MEE campaign has a community-engagement component central to it—we value and prioritize it. MEE’s community-engagement approach and models have been tested and proven over more than three decades of experience in urban and underserved communities. MEE’s three (3) evidence-based models take a “bottom up” rather than “top down” approach to engaging communities. They are also trauma-informed, reflecting the often harsh economic and social realities of underserved populations. Finally, the models are community-developed, not adopted from mainstream interventions; they extensively involve the target audience in their development and implementation.

As a result of exploring these topics, participants will:
  • Learn why having authentic, on-the-ground community engagement in a public- or behavioral-health professional’s “toolbox” counters a lack of trust in mainstream institutions, even though this approach is often ignored because it is perceived as “too hard” to pull off.
  • Learn why using a network of community partners as a message delivery channel can be both more culturally-relevant and cost-effective than mainstream, traditional media.
  • Understand why the best use for even the latest digital technology (high-tech) is as a mechanism to drive as many members of hard-to-reach audiences as possible to on-the-ground, community-based encounters (high-touch) where authentic dialogue can take place. A circular framework then allows these audiences to use digital solutions like social media platforms to maintain the established relationship and/or to seek more detailed information as needed.

Providers who gain skills in effective, community engagement will have a blueprint for developing lasting connections that restore and build trust with skeptical residents and address a range of health disparities and inequities (i.e., SUDs) in low-income communities of color. Building this type of credibility increases both impact and effectiveness.

Moving Young Black Men Beyond Survival Mode: Protective Factors for Their Mental Health

Workshop Options:

  • 2.5-Hour Overview
  • 4-Hour Interactive
  • All Include Access to Resource Portal

This workshop focuses on how to prevent or reduce mental health issues among boys and men of color (BMOC) by promoting the protective factors that counter the risk factors (social determinants of health) that too often keep BMOC in survival mode. Using a “protective factors framework” with BMOC living in low-income, urban communities can provide inoculation against the stressors they will face early on in life. They will be armed with the skills needed to thrive, even in the face of repeated exposure to extreme poverty and adverse childhood experiences.

The content presented will make the case that protective-factor interventions should be studied and evaluated. It raises the bioethical question—why potential “population health” interventions that can provide better outcomes in a cost-effective, culturally-relevant way are not being funded and published. Promoting protective factors to cope with stress and trauma is not a new recommendation, yet a protective factors framework to address and prevent urban youth violence has not been implemented at scale and formally evaluated. Conducting protective-factors interventions will provide the research and evidence base necessary to support the assertion that promoting and reinforcing protective factors will help low-income youth of color survive and thrive.

Key Topics Covered in This Workshop:

During the session, participants will:
  • Gain knowledge about urban America’s unique brand of trauma that low-income, urban and under-resourced boys and men of color (BMOC) are forced to navigate. Health disparities in these communities are characterized by ongoing exposure to high doses of stress and trauma and institutional racism. Urban America’s unique social determinants of health (disparities) includes sustained poverty, regular traumatic episodes like violence in the home and community, criminalization of residents (including police harassment and incarceration), poor public education and even worse housing conditions.
  • Gain an understanding of why protective factor interventions should be implemented as “population health” interventions and how taking a trauma-informed approach using community engagement tactics provides better outcomes (cost-effective, culturally-relevant channels) in low-income urban communities.
  • Engage in a discussion about why and how some young men of color are not only surviving but are thriving. “Thrivers” are living in the same neighborhoods and exposed to the same social determinants as their peers, but are making different choices, resulting in much healthier mental health outcomes. The discussion will also include “what should be on the horizon” in the field of public health, in order to prevent and reduce mental health issues among young boys and men of color.
  • Review case studies, examples and evaluation methods of innovative projects designed to improve the health and life outcomes of boys and men of color in multiple urban and inner-city communities. These include a public-health intervention promoting protective factors and positive and thriving coping strategies, originally developed for the state of Ohio, now being piloted and evaluated in Philadelphia and Columbus.

Creating Safe Spaces for Communities of Color

Workshop Options:

  • 3-Hour Overview & Interactive
  • 5-Hour Intense In-Person
  • All Include Access to Resource Portal
Co-facilitated by MEE partner, Sulaiman Nuriddin M. Ed., this interactive workshop is a professional development opportunity for any providers or clinical staff (including home visitors and therapists) who work directly with families and individuals impacted by chronic diseases, mental illness, substance-use disorders and other health disparities. The workshop is designed to improve participants’ cultural competency and ability to effectively communicate about the range of prevention, intervention, recovery and treatment options with communities of color.

This workshop will enhance participants’ ability to create more welcoming environments and positive interactions with both families of color, in order to foster and support healthy interpersonal relationships within them (including reconciliation and reunification), promote open communication about discussing behavioral and mental health and reduce the potential for partner violence or domestic abuse.

Key Topics Covered in This Workshop:

During the session, participants will:
  • Gain information and context that enhances empathy for clients who reflect different backgrounds, experiences and worldviews from outreach and other staff at the agencies and programs designed to serve them.
  • Engage in discussions and activities to contextualize the experiences and worldviews of people of color and how they are negatively impacted by stereotypes and misperceptions.
  • Increase their awareness and understanding of the worldview and specific cultural and interpersonal communication dynamics of people of color.
  • Gain tips on how to support people of color in being present in their intimate and family relationships, address struggles related to power and control issues, navigate one’s behavioral and mental health and end domestic violence.
  • Participate in hands-on, interactive role exercises to prepare them for an authentic, and ultimately, effective dialogue with communities of color, including African-American men and fathers.
  • Learn how to foster safe spaces where men of color can discuss learned masculinity, make sense of their own feelings and support the feelings of others.

Javier-Led Workshops

From This Moment On

As human beings one of the greatest powers we possess is the power to choose. This program reminds audiences that their personal power to change their lives and change the world around them starts with the choices they make from this moment on. Your past does not have to disqualify you from your future and amazing things can start to happen in your life the moment you realize this and recognize how valuable and necessary each of us truly are. This life-building message delivered through comedy, poetry, and powerful storytelling is guaranteed to move your audience from inspiration to action!

From This Moment On…Thrive

Our culture encourages us to strive for success at any and all costs. More and more research is showing how detrimental constant comparison to others and pressure to always be perfect can be to your physical, mental, and emotional health. Just because you are successful on paper does not guarantee you are thriving. However, individuals who are thriving often experience measurable successes along the way. This presentation reminds participants that it’s okay to not be okay all the time and that we can choose to positively cope and thrive even in the midst of life’s most challenging circumstances.

From This Moment On…Say it Loud, Live it Louder

Young people have been told too often and for too long that they are the “future” or they are “tomorrow’s leaders”. The message this sometimes sends is that they cannot impact their homes, schools, and communities in a positive way right now. This highly engaging and interactive workshop trains young people and their adult allies to identify opportunities to impact schools, communities, and individual lives for the better right now and to get involved in solution-based action planning. If change for the better is going to happen, it can’t just happen to young people, it must happen through them.

Who C.A.R.E.S.? – Keys to Moving 21st Century Students from Inspiration to Action

Young people gravitate toward, respond to, and are willing to learn from adults they believe truly C.A.R.E. about them. Before the learning and development process can begin it is vital that we establish a culture of C.A.R.E. within our homes, schools, programs, and communities. As adults, we have a responsibility to awaken this generation to the chances they have to experience life to the fullest in healthy, positive, and productive ways. We are also called to be allies, using a trauma-informed approach to help them navigate the choices they’re making every day that matter most. Participants will walk away with a new or renewed passion for youth engagement as well as impact tools and resources that are immediately applicable, engaging, relevant, and fun. It’s time to listen, react, share, and do our part to demonstrate to our young people that we truly C.A.R.E.

© MEE Productions 2023