Success with CHWs: Mental Health Services

Recruiting & hiring a CHW

01_20141202_mnchcwa_057As an emerging profession, qualified Community Health Workers (CHWs) can be found through a variety of channels, including:

  • CHW Certificate Programs
  • Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance
  • Minnesota CHW Peer Network

In addition to proper foundational training and certification, top CHW candidates will possess certain qualities and skills.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), desired qualities of community health workers include:

  • Commitment to serving the community;
  • Caring about others;
  • Warmth;
  • Respect by peers in the community;
  • Shared values and experiences of the people being served;
  • Membership in the community being served;
  • Good health practices, attitudes, and self-esteem;
  • Ability to take a stand for what they believe;
  • Ability to grow, change, and learn; and
  • Leadership in the community.

Some important considerations for recruitment are offered by the CDC in, “A Handbook for Enhancing CHW Programs—CDC/DCPC” as well as on the Rural Assistance Center’s website.

Although often enlisted to serve a variety of functions in community and health, the role of the CHW, or promotora, in mental health and substance use screening and care can be especially effective in reducing barriers by communicating in the language of the patient and providing insight to the problem at hand and the treatments prescribed. By integrating themselves into the community-based health clinic, the CHW/promotora can help reduce stigma, enhance patient engagement and facilitate the warm hand off to a provider of trust, and represent an important part of the solution to a culturally and linguistically competent workforce (Office of Minority Health, 2012).

Source: Sanchez, K., Chapa, T., Ybarra, R., & Martinez, O. N., (2012) (PDF)