Past Summit Proceedings 2012

Healthy Supports, Healthy Communities:
Improving the Health of Communities Through Social Supports

Transitions and transformations…that is what health care is all about. We are moving from an individual perspective to a focus on the collective power of people living, learning, working, and healing together. The enormous potential of community and social support was the focus of our exciting 2012 Summit. On March 21 – 23, 2012, thought leaders came together in Charleston, SC, to address three contemporary and compelling questions:

  • What impact do social supports have on the health of a community?
  • How can these supports change a community’s social determinants of health?
  • What are the implications of these changes for the prevention, treatment, and recovery of people with behavioral health problems?

Health is about far more than medical care. Education, income, housing, nutrition, and the neighborhoods in which we live influence individual health and welfare. Many people do not have the same opportunities to make healthy choices. Barriers are difficult to overcome and harnessing the societal pressure necessary to drive change remains an enormous challenge. Rather than staying focused only on reforming health care – which is essential – we must broaden our view and find ways to help all people lead healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives.

At this ACMHA Summit we addressed how social supports – emotional, tangible, informational, and instrumental – enhance health in any community, be it a neighborhood, workplace, school, or virtual network. Post-Summit learnings, presenter slides, poster presentations, and links to further reading are all included below. Please make use of these resources as you continue to work to effect change and create healthy communities! The image above is also a link to an electronic copy of the program brochure!

Post-Summit Learnings

From the 4x5 Harvest

At the conclusion of the Summit, attendees were asked to recall one important learning or “aha” moment from the Summit. A list of 83 statements were “harvested” and reflect the breadth and depth of the Summit “community.”

Learnings about community engagement and characteristics were paramount. “We want to know that you care, before we care what you know;” “Start with the community and not the answer;” “Block professional input and wait until the community asks for it;” and, “Supports and system change happen differently in each community; listening, engaging, and using the strengths of the community will make the difference” are some of the many learnings gleaned.

Participants also noted insights to new health and behavioral health roles and responsibilities. “It is very difficult to create a community that takes into account diversity of perspective and the social determinates of health—but it is critical to do the work;” [We need to] “ facilitate community empowerment and wellness versus leading [a] sick/medical model” were noted by many. Also, “Humans and communities connect and relate. This is what it is to be human. Behavioral health services and systems are experts in convening people to connect and relate. It’s a natural.” In addition, attendees valued the exemplar community programs presented and recognized the many effective community building strategies in action and those evolving such as social media and technology.

Learnings of a more personal or individual nature were another result of the Summit experience. For example, “Each of us can impact the health of a community;” “Community health and wellness starts with my own health and wellness;, “Push past your fears to do what your heart knows and the world will change;” and “Root your professional service in your personal experience.”

Lastly, comments related to the Summit and ACMHA participants were rated as important learnings for participants. “ACMHA members want their work to be research-informed. They crave simple summaries of the research on which they can build” and “The tremendous talent and spirit of ACMHA members at this Summit to discuss and learn from each other respectively.”

Summit Presentation Slides

Poster Presentations

Readings and Additional Information