Strategies and takeaways from SCI's Forum on Social Capital and Health

L-R Harold Cox, Luis Prado, Sandro Galea, Allison Bauer, and Abigail Orti
On Friday, May 8th, SCI presented a Forum on Social Capital and Health at Boston University School of Public Health. The Forum was attended by over 100 people, many of whom work in the health field. 
 
BUSPH Dean Sandro Galea gave an engaging and informative presentation on the social production of health (his slides are available here). Galea emphasized that, while the US has some of the best hospitals in the world, many Americans don't live long enough or have the resources to access these benefits due to social determinants of health. 
 
The Dean's address was followed by a panel conversation featuring Abigial Ortiz of Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, Allison Bauer of the Boston Foundation, Mo Barbosa of Health Resources in Action, and Luis Prado, Director of Health and Human Services for the City of Chelsea. The panel was moderated by Harold Cox of BUSPH. The panel touched on some strategies to build networks and improve access to social capital in local communities (full video of the entire program will be available soon). 
 
This conversation was continued in small groups by attendees who discussed both challenges and strategies surrounding social capital and health in specific areas of interest, including health inequities, mental health, marginalized population health, etc. Below, I've collected some of the key points from those discussions based on notes taken by our facilitators. In the comments section, please feel free to add to this list or, if you attended the forum, expand on the ideas presented here!
 
CHALLENGES to building stronger networks
  • Stigma around mental illness and PTSD
  • Patients receive medical treatment but not enough occupational therapy or opportunities to build community
  • Community orgs tend to reinvent wheel, rather than borrowing/enhancing existing programs/best practices
  • Mainstream media selective about what is shown regarding trauma victims
  • "Rugged American individualism" - ie. have to fight against view of personal responsibility/choice to offer and accept help
  • Lack of community leaders within marginalized groups
  • Legal issues for undocumented residents
  • Poverty is often the root of social isolation - basic needs not being met
 
ACTION STEPS AND STRATEGIES stronger networks/better health outcomes
  • Occupational therapy - provide a learning environment with activities/work 
  • Universally equal education on healthy eating
  • Build social capital among those who are serving
  • Holistic approach to education (ie. Financial literacy)
  • Better engage people of low socio-economic status
  • Provide resources: child care, food, transportation and other basic needs
  • Ptilize existing social networks (ie church for immigrant populations)
  • Empower “agents of change”
  • Reinvest in community
  • Best practice sharing
  • Work with agency providers who, in turn, find ways to keep people engaged
  • Build capacity through bridging agents; people are more likely to people they are already connected with
  • Identify expertise/interest within networks, make connections (ask about project, ask about partners, ask what they are looking for)
  • De-stress families by addressing inequities/basic needs
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DeanGaleaSlides.pdf1.96 MB