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So hopefully now you have a good understanding of the benefits of data and an understanding of the importance of making data practical, engaging and meaningful after reading my last post on Data Collection: Reasons For & What To Collect

Today I am going to go through some specific strategies that you can use to collect community mental health data in more detail.  I will explain the process for each and you can download the FREE resource available on this post to get started with your action team. 

Whilst there are many strategies that I can suggest for data collection, I am going to talk about 2 specific strategies that are great to start using immediately and are fairly easy to implement. 

  1. 3 TIER SNAPSHOT 

A place to start when you have formed your action team it to collect a 3 Tier Snapshot.  This involves collecting information on what is currently happening across the community in mental health with regards to 

The team can start to identify these things but this provides a great oppportunity for the team to either get out and chat to the community about what is happening or send a series of questions to organisations/businesses to ask them what they currently do in each space.  

STEP 1 Brainstorm as a team what you think is currently being done in each area across the community 

STEP 2 Decide as a team how to get more information from the community to feed into the Tiered Diagram 

STEP 3 If choosing to collect information informally through conversations, allocate each member of the team a group of organisations and set a timeframe for data collection.  Team members go to each organisation and ask them 3 questions eg. “What do currently do in your organisation to raise awareness of mental health and issues?” 

STEP 4 If collecting information formally through online questions, use a platform such as Microsoft Forms or Survey Monkey to send out to organisations.  This will collate the information for you.  However the challenge with this is to make a plan to follow up to ensure you receive forms or surveys back. 

STEP 5 Collate information and add to 3 Tier Diagram.  Share this information with community as a snapshot of current practices in mental health.  It is a great starting point for conversations and goal setting. 

# You can also complete a similar activity with protective (reduce the likelihood of poor mental health) and risk factors (increase the likelihood of poor mental health) in your local community.   

  1. TARGETED SURVEYS & QUESTIONS 

We have to be careful with surveys as people are time poor and will often overlook a survey when it is sent with completion rates often very disappointing.  However if we add a little creativity we can get surprisingly good results. 

STEP 1 As an action team consider what questions to include on your survey? 

(Download free resource below for a selection of sample questions to ask in survey) 

STEP 2 Launch survey on social media, in person, via email and through any other available platforms.  Do this rather than just adding it on with little consideration. 

STEP 3 Ensure that you include schools in the survey.  If possible ask someone within the school to carry out the survey at a staff meeting/during classes to ensure that all staff and students have a chance to complete the survey 

STEP 4 Break survey into individual questions to ask on social media or as a slip to hand out at large gatherings with a ballot type box for collection. 

STEP 5 Ask local businesses for a prize donation to use for the first survey completed or a random drawer for anyone who completes the survey 

STEP 6 Ask govt organisations for data that may be useful to action team in decision making. 

STEP 7 Collate information and use to make some initial goals and targets 

STEP 8 Share results or goals/targets with community to help build awareness and create a presence for the action team 

Please check out the FREE resources you can download with samples of all of the above to get you started. 

In an upcoming blog post I will explain the process for creating goals and targets with your team using all of the data you have collected. 

DATA!  When I hear the word data I cringe – well I should say I used to cringe. 

But I have since come to realise that if done effectively and in a manner that appeals to a wide audience it becomes a powerful tool to enable goal setting and measure success and areas for improvement.

When we begin a new initiative, we are often so excited to get started and to see results, that we forget to take time to identify what is really going on.  Collecting data gives us the opportunity to identify what is ‘actually happening’.  We typically have a good sense of what this is, but effective data collection ensures that we understand the true needs of the community rather than our assumed ones.  We can often use this data collection to identify target groups within our local area and to assist us in setting initial goals and targets. 

Another important benefit of collecting data is that it is very powerful when sourcing essential funding and grants.  It can help provide the backbone for our initiatives and can help provide evidence needed when requesting funding for new initiatives.    

When collecting baseline data in preparation for action planning and goal setting I would recommend the following techniques:

  1. Use of a 3 Tier Diagram
  2. This is a great tool to use when first beginning to get a snapshot of current strategies and to help identify where the gaps exist
  3. Targeted Surveys
  4. Surveys provided in a variety of forms including online, paper and in person
  5. Ensure that surveys are provided to local schools.  This is an ideal way to collect data from the youth and also the teachers within the school.  Be sure to check the format that is suitable as many schools must stick to using tools such as Microsoft Forms etc.
  6. Specific questions from within the surveys posted on the team’s social media channels - This can be a great way to engage busy people who may not have time to complete a survey but can jot down a quick answer to one question on social media
  7. A simple question posted at an event or as people are leaving - There could even be an ipad where people input their answer to the question. Or instead you could have a question posted on a wall with answers and people simply add a sticky dot next to their preferred answer
  8. Use the initial data to set some initial goals and targets - This will allow the team to get some early wins and raise awareness out in the community or local area
  9. Provide an initiative for getting the surveys back on time - A little incentive goes a long way to motivating people

In my next blog post I will share examples of each of the data collection strategies that I have mentioned above, and will explain how to utilise each.

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