December Prevention Spotlight! Matt Butler-Kent State University, Ashtabula

This month’s Prevention Spotlight is one of our partners at Kent State University-Ashtabula. Here is
what the Program Director of the Bachelor of Social Work Program, Matt Butler, has to say about his
participation with the Ashtabula Co. Prevention Coalition:

I’ve had the great honor to work with the Ashtabula County Prevention Coalition for many years, and
the initiatives and efforts put forth by the MHRS Board and the ACPC have truly made a huge
difference in this community. As the Program Director for Kent State’s Bachelor of Social Work, it is
incredibly important to me to be able to teach my students about the power of collective impact on
some of the huge challenges that we’re all trying to tackle together. If I’m not able to put those
words into action and actually show students examples of real-world collaboration and connection,
then they’re not going to take those concepts very seriously! My program’s goal is to educate, train
and prepare individuals in rural communities to enter the field of social work and meet some of the
huge workforce needs that exist, both here in Ashtabula County and across Northeast Ohio. Without
my involvement in the Prevention Coalition, it would be much more challenging to form those links
between behavioral health agencies, hospitals, school districts, and other social service providers
and my students. The Coalition meetings, newsletters, trainings, and committee work all help in our
goal of making this community the type of place where we can all thrive.

Kent State University takes part in many community initiatives related to the ACPC’s work, and that
partnership has been an excellent one. KSU professors have asked the Coalition to provide trainers
for students to take Question, Persuade, Refer suicide gatekeeper trainings. KSU’s work with mental
health stigma reduction in our Reduce the Stigma, Seek Help, and Refer a Flash campaign also
worked in perfect coordination with the mission of the Coalition’s Stigma Workgroup to decrease
stigma related to behavioral health conditions in this community. KSU has served as the site of
several of the Prevention Coalition’s annual PART Conferences, and students, faculty, and staff from
the university have participated in Prevention Coalition committees, trainings, and events for the
past several years. Kent State Ashtabula has also been at the forefront of local efforts to address
health disparities and inequity throughout this community, which also furthers the work of the
Coalition. One of the greatest strengths of the Kent State Regional Campus system is the ability of
Kent State to meet the needs of those local communities. As I’ve learned from the Prevention
Coalition, local problems call for local solutions, and a great deal of prevention work has to be
community-specific. Kent State Ashtabula’s goals and needs are also the goals and needs of this
community, and our collaboration with the Prevention Coalition just serves to highlight that fact.
We appreciate the opportunity to be a part of such vibrant and meaningful work.