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

COVID-19 Messaging Grant Awarded to USU Extension Faculty

In September 2020, a team of five USU Extension faculty from the Home and Community Department, Marketing, and Create Better Health (SNAP-Ed) program received a $75,000 Coronavirus Prevention Messaging Grant from the Utah Department of Heritage Arts. This grant aims to disseminate information that supports the health guidance found in Utah Leads Together and Utah Department of Health (UDOH) phased guidelines, reaching underserved populations, high-risk individuals and their caregivers, multi-cultural communities, and geographical areas of Utah that show high rates of infection, as monitored by UDOH.

HEART team faculty member, Gabriela Murza, is the principal investigator of the grant, and the HEART team are serving as consultants to and creators of messaging surrounding mental health, self-care, and caring for others in times of crisis. Additional faculty representing Family and Consumer Sciences and Marketing have expertise in health, wellness, and personal safety and will be creating messaging surrounding those themes.

The grant period runs through the end of December 2020, so be on the lookout for messaging encouraging you to continue following public health guidance, engaging with the economy, and taking care of self and others during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Did You Know? 

Substance Use Disorder is Commonly a Co-occurring Disorder

“Substance use disorders (SUD), the continual misuse of alcohol and/or drugs, frequently occurs together with mental illness in individuals, often to cope with overwhelming symptoms. The combination of these two illnesses has its own term: dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders. Either disorder (substance use or mental illness) can develop first.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.2 million U.S. adults experienced both mental illness and a substance use disorder in 2018. 

Because many combinations of dual diagnosis can occur, symptoms vary widely. Mental health clinics are increasing the use of alcohol and drug screening tools to identify people at risk. Symptoms of substance use disorder may include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Rapid changes in behavior
  • Participating in risky behaviors
  • Developing a high tolerance and withdrawal symptoms
  • Feeling like you need a drug to be able to function

Symptoms of a mental health condition can also vary greatly. Warning signs, such as extreme mood changes, confused thinking or problems concentrating, avoiding friends and social activities and thoughts of suicide, may be reasons to seek help.”

Adapted from NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Community Highlight

USU Faculty are Collaborating to Bring Employment Training Opportunities to People Who are Incarcerated

In June 2020, four USU faculty in the Home & Community Department representing HEART, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Community Resource and Economic Development were awarded a grant from USU's Rural Online Initiative (ROI) to modify and pilot their Master Remote Work Professional Certification Course to individuals who are incarcerated in Utah's correctional facilities.

ROI's mission is to prepare Utah's rural workforce by providing education, training, and other services to help prepare individuals to work remotely as an employee, freelancer, or entrepreneur (ROI, 2020). Their Master Remote Work Professional Certification Course is designed to equip participants with the tools and skills needed to transition into remote work (ROI, 2020). For individuals who are incarcerated, this program can help them develop skills to succeed in a field which can offer them more choices upon release. 

By teaching remote work skills and providing support to gainful employment upon release, ROI is furthering its goal of connecting the unemployed and underemployed to essential jobs. We are excited to be a part of this effort, working with other USU faculty, to bring important and meaningful training opportunities to people who will benefit from these skills. 

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.
HOPE Squad 5k/10k Walk/Run
Suicide Prevention & Awareness

 Goblin Valley State Park
November 7, 2020 | 8 am

Learn more and register here.
Living Well with Chronic Pain

Now offered as a virtual class for the first time.

Contact Rebbi Burdett at for more information.

Want more information on upcoming events?
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