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Hosting a Community Conversation

The Texas Department of State Health Services encourages communities to conduct Community Conversations focusing on teen and young adult mental health as part of the Speak Your Mind Texas initiative.

Is your community interested in hosting a Community Conversation? These events may be designed to reflect the needs, concerns, and resources in your local community. Event materials and templates, including a sample agenda, are available here.

Questions? Contact: SpeakYourMindTexas@hhsc.state.tx.us.

Printable pdf of Guidelines

Planning Your Community Conversation: Guidelines and Best Practices

Purpose:

To spark community dialogue about mental health and substance use; reduce the stigma often associated with mental illness; and explore the steps that families, schools, and communities can take to improve mental health and remove barriers to treatment, particularly among teens and young adults.


  • Teen and young adult support systems such as educators, health professionals, and parents.
  • Teens and young adults.
  • Members of the community who have a stake or interest in the welfare of teens and young adults — including teachers, mental health professionals, faith leaders, law enforcement, business leaders, and local officials.
  • Town hall-style forum.
  • 2 hours in length.
  • Event timing (morning, lunch, afternoon, or evening) based on community preference and resources for providing refreshments.
  • Number of participants may range from less than 50 to more than 200, depending on the needs of the community. Venue should accommodate table discussion for anticipated audience.
  • Venue should be equipped with a podium, microphone, and audio/visual equipment to enable panelists to show community data/presentations and Speak Your Mind Texas testimonial videos.
  • Refreshments may be provided by host or community partner.
  • One experienced facilitator should be assigned to each discussion group of six to 10 participants.
  • Table scribes may be assigned in advance or volunteers may be recruited to record discussion takeaways at each table.
  • Enlist a seasoned leader, elected official or mental health advocate to serve as the “emcee.”
  • Enlist someone familiar with Twitter to tweet about the event and tweet speaker comments.
  • Begin the program with an overview of the Community Conversation’s purpose and show a testimonial video. The four videos, all in English and Spanish, are available for viewing or downloading on the DSHS YouTube channel.
  • Choose no more than four or five panelists, including a parent or young person willing to share their personal experience with mental illness and/or substance abuse.
  • Start your discussion with this personal story to engage participants and begin open dialogue.
  • Allow participants ample time for meaningful small group table discussions.
  • Keep in mind your audience’s needs and arrange to have translators available if necessary.
  • Join with several community leaders to spearhead the Community Conversation event planning, including date and venue selection.
  • Compile a list of local leaders and organizations, and conduct outreach via phone and e-mail to encourage attendance.
  • Create an event registration page using a free online tool, such as Eventbrite, or an alternate method to track expected attendance.
  • Localize the campaign promotional event flyer and include a link to the registration site, if available.
  • Compile a list of local resources offering mental health services and make the list available at the meeting.
  • Download or Order Speak Your Mind Texas brochures and posters in advance (contact SpeakYourMindTexas@hhsc.state.tx.us for assistance). Ensure that each participant receives a brochure and that posters are displayed in the meeting room.
  • Collect participants’ names and contact information for notification of future events and meetings.

The Speak Your Mind Texas Campaign Materials page has several options to help promote the event (also available in Spanish).

  • Brochure
  • Poster for adult audiences
  • Poster for teens and young adults
  • Videos
  • TV and radio public service announcements

Files can be downloaded and localized as necessary.


Texas Department of State Health Services

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