Nationwide, the health care system is transforming to meet the Triple Aim: better care for individuals, better health for populations, and lower per capita costs of health care. Public Health departments are addressing this transformation by moving beyond the clinic to the community to address the social determinants of health and implementing primary prevention strategies for mental, emotional, and behavior (MEB) disorders and chronic disease.

Strengthening the Public Health and Mental, Emotional, Behavioral Health Infrastructure in New York: A Toolkit

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We often hear about the difficulties that local health departments and their partners encounter while trying to navigate New York State’s complex health reform initiatives. One of these challenges is strengthening and aligning the public health, mental health, and substance abuse infrastructure to integrate physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral health services. Traditionally, services to promote mental health & wellbeing and prevent substance abuse have developed separately from the medical and public health systems.</w:wrap></v:fill>

This toolkit is designed to help LHDs, hospitals, and their community-based partners strengthen infrastructure to support mental, emotional, and behavioral (MEB) wellbeing promotion and disorders prevention. The resources and tools included in this guide are organized at three levels—clinical, community/county, and region.

What Does “Strengthen Infrastructure” Mean?

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) defines infrastructure as the systems, competencies, frameworks, relationships, and resources that enable public health agencies to perform their core functions and essential services. Infrastructure categories encompass human, organizational, informational, legal, policy, and fiscal resources. Infrastructure is often described as the road or bridge to building a project. Strengthening infrastructure means building from the current “roads and bridges” to create effective systems for change.

Throughout the tools and resources in this guide, there are five components of infrastructure that should be addressed to advance a public health approach to MEB well-being. These components include: a shared purpose, evidence-based interventions, conditions for continuous improvement, engaged partners, and a focus on outcomes. For definitions of each of these components, see Table 1 in the Toolkit.

Beyond Collaboration: Collective Impact for Mental Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention

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Public health often works in multidisciplinary spaces. With the increasing focus on prevention and social determinants, work across sectors will only continue to grow.  During this webinar, participants were introduced to the concept of Collective Impact, as well as resources to help them move forward. Focusing on the role local health departments can play in the collective impact framework, the webinar includes two case studies emphasizing the contributions of LHDs to the process. Collaboration and coordination are the cornerstones of prevention work, and "Collective impact is a powerful new approach to cross-sector collaboration that is achieving measurable effects on major social issues.”