Mental Health Services Needs Assessment: Assessing the successes and gaps of mental health services provided in a nine-county region

The Situation

Minnesota’s Region 4 Mental Health Initiative hired The Improve Group to evaluate the mental and behavioral health services offered across nine counties. To support individuals and families in meeting their mental health needs, the counties aimed to:

  • Learn about the strengths and limitations of the current service delivery system.
  • Identify areas that may require more mental health resources in the future.
  • Determine whether existing system and services were efficiently and effectively serving people with mental health needs.

The Solution

Within a six-month window, our team delivered a comprehensive, multi-partnered evaluation that:

  • Helped the collaboration reach consensus about the most important evaluation questions.
  • Created a work plan to answer the most pressing questions about systems and consumer experiences.
  • Assessed how existing data was available and relevant.
  • Used a two-step approach to data collection that involved in-depth surveys, followed by short interviews to gather additional qualitative data.
  • Designed the tools and gathered data through on-site consumer and caregiver focus groups in each of the nine counties, as well as phone interviews with over 45 key informants.
  • Conducted secondary data analysis.
  • Demonstrated cultural competency across key populations.

The Results

Working collaboratively with the many county contacts, our team succeeded to win the participation of hundreds of individuals in focus groups and interviews conducted around the region, providing a valuable assessment for county psychiatrists, school staff, case managers and other stakeholders.

This process has resulted in:

  • A deliverable of rich, detailed data collected in a convenient manner for the busy stakeholders.
  • Expanded knowledge of services available for consumers with mental health needs and gaps in those services.
  • An enhanced understanding of barriers and gaps in accessing services for selected demographic and cultural groups, including incarcerated individuals, veterans, people with chemical dependency and mental illness, and Somali, Latino and American Indian populations.

Link to Report  

Link to blog on recruiting participants for focus groups

The Improve Group's final report has served as a catalyst for conversations with local providers on how to address some of the most pressing service gaps in our region. I would recommend The Improve Group to any partner looking to contract a needs assessment in the Human Services field.  

-Rhonda Porter, Director, Clay County Social Services