Health Extension: Advocacy, Research, Teaching (HEART) is partnering locally and nationally to address the Opioid crisis and other pressing public health issues. The Health & Wellness faculty team serves the state of Utah. Five faculty are housed in nine counties where Opioid Use Disorder has had some of the most devastating effects. HEART seeks to coordinate on-the-ground efforts that advance evidence-based information, community-based solutions, and multi-sector partnerships.
HEART Team Highlights

HEART Faculty Receives $2.3 Million Peer Support Training HRSA Grant

In August three HEART team faculty members were awarded a $2.3 million Health Resources Services Administration grant to administer a Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS) training program.  A CPSS is a trained recovery support specialist who is also an individual in long-term recovery.  The trained CPSS works in the same settings as licensed clinicians and therapists, but also offers their lived experience to the treatment support.  CPSS’s offer empathy, hope, understanding, empowerment, and serve as positive role models. When combined with conventional treatment, peer support may improve the overall outcome of services. 

Several reports show an increase in treatment retention and improved access to social supports, and decreases in criminal justice involvement, hospitalizations, and substance use (or relapse) when a CPSS is part of the treatment team. The HEART team grant will train and support apprenticeships for 365 peer para-professionals over the next four years and will help ensure there is a strong workforce to address substance use and opioid disorders in Utah. To learn more about the project, please visit the official press release

Did You Know? 

September is Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month 

Did you know that suicide is preventable and September brings awareness to this important fact through several awareness activities throughout the month (NAMI)? Suicide is one of the top ten leading causes of death in the US (CDC) but together we can all help save a life! 

Some important dates during September’s Suicide Prevention Month are: National Suicide Prevention Week from September 8-14th, and World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. Want to learn more about evidence-based suicide prevention and get involved? Try starting with this: Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices (CDC).

COVID-19 has made mental health awareness and suicide prevention efforts especially important (Czeisler, et al., 2020). During this difficult time, it is important that we all have honest conversations about mental health and reach out to get help when we need to. You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) 24/7 for yourself or a loved one to get help or just talk to someone (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). To begin making positive impacts on prevention we can teach others and build our own coping skills, problem solving skills, and practice self-care (CDC). Here are some ways to take care of yourself this month: connect with others, meditate, take breaks from the media, exercise, and create a daily routine (CDC).

For more information on how to manage stress and anxiety during COVID-19 visit AWARE for articles each month on mental health topics. For more information and resources related to COVID-19, please visit USU Extensions COVID-19 Resource page.  

Community Highlight

HEART is Hiring!

Utah State University Extension invites applications for a Professional Practice Extension Assistant Professor position in Davis County, UT. This position is a non-tenure track, fiscal year 12- month/year appointment. Extension faculty develop, provide, evaluate, and coordinate research-based educational programs for youth and adults. Extension faculty also recruit, train and supervise volunteer leaders and serve as a liaison between local clientele, other resource agencies, and Utah State University administrators, faculty, and programs. This faculty member will have Davis and Weber counties, regional, and University responsibilities. The initial focus of this position will be prevention of opioid misuse. 

The faculty will join four other HEART (Health Extension: Advocacy, Research, and Teaching) faculty located in counties across the state. The HEART Initiative focuses on current public health issues (e.g., opioids, mental health and wellness, suicide prevention, and other pressing public health crises) in 9 counties and throughout Utah. To learn more about current HEART efforts, please visit the HEART website located here

The estimated start date for this position is November 1, 2020. To learn more and apply, visit the USU Career Opportunities website

Upcoming Events 
To prevent the spread of illness and promote health and wellness, USU Extension has moved some programming online. Please contact your county Extension office to see if they are offering in-person programs.
Carbon & Emery 
Opioid & Substance Use Coalition Meetings Now Online.

First Monday of the month from 11:00 am - noon 
Now held online
Please email Ashley Yaugher, PhD for the meeting link.
Getting It Together: Body, Mind, and Spirit Self-Care in Tough Times

Join us for an Online Self-Care Workshop for Women in Carbon, Emery, & Grand Counties!

September 22 | 6-7:30 PM | Register
Free Virtual
Safe Messaging Training

Suicide Prevention & Awareness

2 Dates Available 
Sept. 4, 2020 | 1:00 - 2:00 pm 
Sept. 25, 2020 | 10:00 - 11:00 am 

Contact Amy Mikkelsen at for more information or to RSVP.
Living Well with Chronic Pain 
Now offered as a virtual class for the first time.

Contact Rebbi Burdett at for more information.
Stories of Utah’s Opioid Crisis
In partnership with Utah Humanities and USU Libraries 

Registration is required to attend these online events.

Salt Lake County
September 10 | 6:30 - 8 PM | Register

For more information, contact
Want more information on upcoming events?
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