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Strengths-based strategies for reducing substance use and mental health challenges in urban Black youth and families
Original Recording Date :

Course Format

Recorded webinar.

This training was made in part by the support of the NYS OMH Children, Youth, and Families Mental Health Evidence-Based Practice Project. Learn more about the project and see if you are eligible for special training opportunities. 

This workshop will provide training to mental health clinicians on how to engage in strengths-based strategies with adolescents and their families through instilling cultural pride, supporting familial and community systems, and providing psychoeducation to Black youth and their families. The same principles may be able to be applied to other racial-ethnic minority groups. There will be a review of substance use, which drugs are more likely to be used by certain populations, and popular interventions including the gaps in these interventions. The conversation will then turn to the importance of community-based research and the effectiveness of a strengths-based approach and interventions. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify which substances are more likely to be used by certain populations.
  2. Examine co-occurring disorders among racial-ethnic minority youth.
  3. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of popular substance use prevention interventions.
  4. Discuss the importance of community-based participatory research.
  5. Describe three protective factors used in substance use prevention.
  6. Apply a strengths-based approach to practice.

Research: Information on Dr. Opara’s research can be found on The Substance Abuse and Sexual Health Lab (SASH) website.

Target Audience: social workers, mental health therapists, and other clinicians providing mental health services to children, youth, and families who meet the NYS OMH training grant eligibility criteria

Customer Service

ADA Accommodations: If you require any support for your ADA needs in the United States, please contact us by email at least 3 weeks prior to the event by email at or by phone at 716-829-5843.

Customer Service: We are happy to respond to any concerns or questions you may have. Please contact us at by email at or by phone at 716-829-5843.

Ijeoma Opara, Ph.D, LMSW, MPH

Dr. Ijeoma Opara is an Assistant Professor of Public Health at Yale University and the founding director of The Substance Abuse and Sexual Health (SASH) Lab (

Most recently, Dr. Opara received the 2020 NIH Director’s Early Independence Award which will fund a five-year youth substance use prevention and mental health community-based study in Paterson, NJ. Dr. Opara is a licensed social worker and has worked primarily with women living with co-occurring disorders and court involved urban youth. Dr. Opara defines herself as a community-based participatory researcher with experience in working with youth and community organizations dedicated to reducing substance use in urban communities. Her current research focuses on using strengths-based approaches and strategies in prevention research, social work practice, and treatment.

Dr. Opara has received training and funding to conduct her work from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Dr. Opara received her PhD in Family Science & Human Development from Montclair State University, a Master of Social Work from New York University, a Master of Public Health from New York Medical College and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from New Jersey City University.


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