CMHN: Where we’ve been and where we are going now!

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We are fortunate to be involved in a comprehensive evaluation that is focusing on how useful CMHN website is to alums and friends of alums across the nation. Take a moment to read about how we are doing, the changes we have made, our success and challenges – and then give us your feedback!

System of Care CMHN Web Site: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going Now

Communities that have graduated from the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program (also referred to as the Community Mental Health Initiative [CMHI]) grant program funded by the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch (CAFB) within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) comprise a wealth of experience and knowledge regarding the development and implementation of their systems of care. Although “alumni” communities no longer receive federal funds from CMHI, they often wish to remain informed about systems of care and share their expertise and extensive experience to improve functioning in alumni and currently funded system of care communities.

The System of Care CMHN was formed to provide a forum for these communities to share information, connect with other system of care community members, and offer experience-based consultation and education to those interested in promoting the concept of systems of care. Since the creation of CMHN in 2005, its members have participated in numerous system of care grantee conferences, collaborated with program partners on various projects, and compiled a diverse array of resources on CMHN Web site. An initial CMHN effort was the development of a Peer Directory, including a description of each funded program and current contact information for individuals affiliated with the programs. The Director of CMHN, Scott Bryant-Comstock, has facilitated these varied CMHN activities and also serves as administrator of CMHN Web site.

One of the most significant activities for CMHN has been the development of CMHN Web site (www.systemofcarealumni.org), initially launched in 2005. The Web site was designed as a resource by and for alumni, with the format and contents of the site being guided by the needs of individuals from alumni communities. The current version of the Web site was launched in December 2009. Throughout the development process, individuals from alumni and currently-funded system of care communities have provided feedback on the content and format of the Web site, resulting in a valuable networking tool for both alumni and currently funded system of care communities.

This report describes the history of CMHN and the results of a recent evaluation of CMHN Web site. It also presents some of the lessons learned throughout implementation of the Web site and next steps in the ongoing development of the Web site.

Evaluation of CMHN Web Site

The National Evaluation Team completed three main activities during 2008 and 2009 to help inform the ongoing development of CMHN Web site: two discussion groups; a series of review sessions; and compilation of quarterly Web site usage reports. In combination, these activities were aimed at addressing the following questions:

  1. How many people are using the Web site and what are their usage patterns?
  2. What are users’ perceptions of the utility and effectiveness of various aspects of the Web site?
  3. How could the Web site be improved to better meet the needs of users?

Evaluation results indicate that, overall, discussion group and review session participants were enthused about the Web site. They offered many suggestions that were incorporated to further improve specific aspects of the site such as:

In addition, a quarterly report is produced to describe patterns of use of CMHN Web site. The report contains information about the number of site visitors and registered members, number of page views, average number of pages viewed per visit, average visit duration, and sources of traffic to the Web site. This information is used continually to help guide continuous quality improvement (CQI) efforts for the future development and promotion of the Web site.

Three important lessons learned from hosting CMHN Web site include:

Next steps to enhance CMHN Web site include:

Soliciting Additional Feedback to Improve the Web Site—by using information from a variety of sources to inform future development of CMHN Web site.

 

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