Recognizing that mental health functions on a spectrum, COMET™ (Changing Our Mental and Emotional Trajectory) teaches people how to intervene when they encounter someone who is in a “vulnerable space” and help shift the person’s mental health trajectory back to a place of wellness instead of proceeding towards a mental health crisis. COMET™ helps fill a gap and is a strong complement to other strategies to reduce the suffering resulting from the high levels of stress in rural, agricultural communities.
COMET aligns with rural cultural values of neighbor helping neighbor and communities being their own best resource. COMET empowers friends and neighbors to be more prepared to support others’ mental health needs – especially before a crisis. COMET does not to ask community members to “be the fix.” Rather, the program trains community members how to initiate a supportive interaction for a potentially emotional conversation using a simple, conversational seven-question guide. The seven questions/statements include: acknowledgment that someone “is not yourself,” asking how they are, observation of behavior or other change, asking about family or social life, an invitation to engage (continue the conversation then or later), optional self-disclosure, and next steps (help person more or exit). The COMET Questions are built around evidence-based techniques of using lay educators, mindfulness, and motivational interviewing approach. COMET is easy to teach and aims to make
these tools more accessible to a broader community.
COMET™ Training Options
1. “COMET Community Training” for community members to learn and use the COMET Questions. Delivered by a two-person training team.
2. COMET “Train-the-Trainer” (TTT) Program: Trains local community members to successfully deliver the COMET Community Training. Provides Regional Trainers with program background, key concepts, and a thorough review of content and COMET questions. Identifies opportunities for local tailoring, such as local resources and health providers to which people can be referred. Also provides basic teaching tips.
Both trainings are 90-minutes and include experiential and didactic sections covering local mental health data, shared examples of being “the other person,” the COMET questions, role-playing, and action planning. Ideally, COMET trainings are delivered in-person; however, virtual versions of both trainings are available.
Trainees have included farmers/ranchers, law enforcement, coroners, health care professionals, teachers, and retail workers. 78% reported they were likely to tell someone that they have noticed a change in their mood or behavior after training compared to 50% before, and 81% were likely to invite an acquaintance or co-worker to talk about a potentially emotional situation after training compared to 57% before. Further, 74% reported an eight or higher on a scale of 1-10 for likelihood of using the COMET questions in the next 3 months.