Mental Health, Social Isolation and Homelessness. Arguably three of our most insidious social challenges that have been on the rise over recent decades and that have become even more prominent during this COVID-19 pandemic. Three elements that have intersectionality, share many root causes and disproportionately impact groups and communities according to race, gender, income and age.
We are excited to launch the first in a series of factsheets created by the Build Healthy Places Network in collaboration with NeighborWorks America that address the question, what makes community development a great partner in health? These factsheets share common aims, evidence base, and explore what works for community development as it partners with the health sector, working together to address these intransigent issues.
Our first factsheet in the series highlights the important intersection of community development and mental health. A safe home and a thriving neighborhood improve both physical and mental health. Research has shown that stress caused by factors like the inability to pay rent, lack of access to services, and homelessness can lead to poor mental health outcomes. This has been especially true during the pandemic that has triggered an economic downturn.
Community health needs assessment (CHNA) of many health systems often identify mental health as a high priority. As an action arm for addressing social determinants of health, advancing equity and improving health, providing safe and affordable housing, sometimes with integrated services, community developers are in a strong position to cultivate the protective factors that have been shown to support good mental health.
From California to Vermont, Community Developers are working together with health partners to improve mental health and wellbeing for communities. These factsheets can help Community Development Corporations better understand and communicate their important role as health partners. This can spark future collaborations and health partnerships that work towards a common aim: improving health outcomes and fostering healthy communities across the nation.
Stay tuned for our second factsheet launching in August 2020.
Download the First Factsheet: