Raising the Bar was a three-year VNR project that helped mental health agencies and practitioners in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles learn about and implement an evidence-based practice for involving families in mental health services for adults with serious mental illnesses. This practice, called the MultiFamily Group (MFG) program, was implemented successfully in a number of Valley mental health agencies, using the resource materials presented below. All may be downloaded free of charge, and can be used by other mental health agencies in planning and implementing this program.
The project addressed an increasingly urgent need in mental health today: to build the capacity of service agencies to identify, rigorously implement, evaluate and sustain evidence-based practices. Throughout the health and human services fields, these research-validated practices have increasingly become the "gold standard" - and in fields like mental health, funders are starting to require their use as a condition of funding support. However, for many mental health agencies, identifying appropriate practices is difficult, and so is high-quality implementation of them. Also, agencies need to address challenges of long-term sustainability for these practices once they're set in place.
Leadership for this project was provided by VNR's Executive Director Dr. Thomas Backer, who has studied evidence-based practices in mental health services for many years; and San Fernando Mental Health Center Medical Director Dr. Alex Kopelowicz, who also is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health for research on use of a family education practice to improve services for Latino clients. They worked in partnership with mental health agency staff throughout the Valley. The project was supported by a grant from the UniHealth Foundation.
With funding support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, VNR also is implementing a Spanish-language, culturally-adapted MFG for Latino transition-age youth, again working with several Valley mental health agencies. For more information, visit the Latino MFG page.