New Gulf Coast Behavioral Health and Resiliency Center (GCBHRC)
Dr. Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Professor of Psychology at USA, is the Director of the newly established Gulf Coast Behavioral Health and Resiliency Center (GCBHRC). This Center was established through the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program (GRHOP) which is series of four integrated five-year projects to strengthen healthcare in Gulf Coast communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. GRHOP was developed jointly by BP and the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee as part of the Deepwater Horizon Medical Benefits Class Action Settlement. The ultimate goal of the outreach program is to ensure that residents of the Gulf Region are informed about their own health and have access to sustainable, high quality, integrated healthcare.
The program particularly targets residents who are medically underserved or uninsured and are receiving care in Federally Qualified Health Centers in 17 coastal counties and parishes located in the coastal areas of the four impacted states. Dr. Langhinrichsen-Rohling’s component of GRHOP is called the Mental and Behavioral Health Capacity Project- Alabama. This component is a five-year grant to advance integrated mental and behavioral health care, to provide training in and access to evidence-based mental and behavioral health treatment, and to increase the overall well-being of at-risk individuals and families in Mobile and Baldwin counties.
To help accomplish these lofty goals, Dr. Langhinrichsen-Rohling and her team have created a significant health entity, the Gulf Coast Behavioral Health and Resiliency Center that did not previously exist in Lower Alabama. Langhinrichsen-Rohling describes her job as one of creating and enhancing partnerships to enhance integrated mental and behavioral health.
Project partners include Franklin Primary Health, the Mobile County Health Center, and the Mobile and Baldwin Public School systems among others. The GCBHRC is also partnering with the USA/AltaPointe Psychiatry Residency program to increase the number of child psychiatry fellows practicing in the local area. Each component of the Mental and Behavioral Health Capacity-Alabama project is evaluated in terms of its efficacy and sustainability; thus, ongoing research is another cornerstone of the center’s activities.
According to Langhinrichsen-Rohling, the Center also offers different training opportunities to the local community. For example, last October, the Gulf Coast Behavioral Health and Resiliency Center organized and hosted the First Annual Generational Resiliency Conference. This conference occurred in partnership with the USA Center for Generational Studies (Dr. Roma Hanks, Director) and the University of West Florida. The 2nd Annual Generational Resiliency Conference will be held in October of 2014. This year’s theme is Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies. Overall, the GCBHRC strives to make the community more aware of the behavioral health needs of children, adults, and families residing in Gulf Coast region by providing training, conducting collaborative research, and providing services within sustainable systems in order “to facilitate wellness, integrated health care, and improved quality of life for coastal inhabitants.”
Langhinrichsen-Rohling asserts that if a community has strong commitment to mental and behavioral healthcare for all of its citizens, communities can decrease negative health outcomes that are extremely costly to the community in terms of finances but also in terms of communal wellbeing. Pre-existing mental and behavioral health services, high-quality healthcare,and community-wide resilience can all serve to mitigate the impact of natural or technological disasters; therefore, promotion of these entities is essential!