By Jenna Bonstein, Preventionist I
Pictured above are Marline Vignier, Regional Minority Health Consultant / Acting Regional Women's Health Coordinator U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (right together with with Wellspring's Jenna Bonstein (first left) and Helen Varvi.
Last September 18th and 19th, the Office of Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hosted a 2 day conference in Washington D.C that both I and Helen Varvi were able to attend.
Wellspring is one of the grantees of the "Prevention Opioid Misuse by Women (POMW) across the Lifespan." At this conference, all participants discussed and presented on prevention strategies for combating the opioid use in women across the lifespan.Grantees from all over the United States were in attendance and shared the hard work they have been doing to bring an end to the opioid crisis in the United States with the help of OWH's funding.
Surgeon General, Jerome M. Adams came and spoke about his personal and professional experience caused by the opioid epidemic in our country. The Surgeon General and his staff are working toward combatting opioid use disorder in the U.S. states by enforcing everyone to have Narcan on them, the opioid antidote to preventing overdoses, at all times. The efforts from the national and state level have been ongoing and extremely impactful in helping organizations such as Wellspring Center for Prevention to provide information and services to the population we serve.
Many speakers spoke of their ongoing efforts to prevent the opioid epidemic and continue to provide services like, SBIRT trainings, Harm reduction clinics and MAT for people with opioid use disorder. Wellspring presented on strategic prevention strategies for mental health providers and the community, such as SBIRT trainings and small focused groups for young girls. Some of our big successes have been our SBIRT trainings in Robert Wood Johnson Pediatric Trauma Department and Jewish Renaissance Foundation.
Lastly, I was proud to present about the outcomes and successes we've had with our Girl's Empowerment group.
This 6-week program has allowed us to share information about women and opioids and risk factors that girls uniquely face compared to young boys. We have reached girl scouts and girl established groups that already existed in Middlesex County. This continual work has made a sustainable effect in the community at large.
Some examples: the girl scouts will be hosting a peer driven workshop for girls to learn about topics pertaining to why girls and women are at higher risk for opioid use disorder. Another effort made was a peer-to-peer Women and Opioid Awareness video/PSA. Link Below:
Overall, the conference was an outstanding event, filled with people who delivered invaluable knowledge and work that is being done around the country. It was inspiring to see the endless efforts in combating the opioid epidemic with the help of Office of Women's Health and the support and funding provided.