Online Program

Mental Health Impact Assessment in Chicago:Using Community Engagement to Create Health Equity

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 5:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Tiffany McDowell, PhD, Institute on Social Exclusion, Adler University, Chicago, IL
Nataka Moore, PsyD, Department of Clinical Psychology, Adler University, Chicago, IL
Background: Mental Health Impact Assessment (MHIA) is a recently developed tool for developing socially just policies and initiatives using methods that are transparent to stakeholders and engage them in planning. MHIAs was adapted from Health Impact Assessments and are designed to assess proposed policies and initiatives for their impact on health equity. The aim is to support a balance  between securing the greatest health gain for the population as a whole, and protecting and promoting the health of marginalized groups. This allows for culturally resonant content to be infused within each step of the policy assessment. 

This presentation uses a Chicago-based example to describe the MHIA process and its community engagement approach. Strategies for engaging and sustaining community input will be offered that demonstrate the importance of integrating a community understanding of the social construction of well-being into public policy.

Methods:Adler University conducted a MHIA on an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 'policy guidance' addressing the use of arrest records in decisions to hire staff. The project team used a mixed-methods approach to assess potential mental health impacts of this new policy on a low-income, African American community in Chicago. 

Findings: Community input  informed policy recommmendations and influenced the process of monitoring of future physical and mental health outcomes.

Implications: Informed community involvement  provides a natural opportunity for advocacy when it is applied towards the evaluation of policies and public decisions that impact their lives

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe the Mental Health Impact Assessment process, outcomes, and strategies for community engagement

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Public Health Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a Doctorate in human development & family science, specializing in couple & family therapy. I have been involved in community-based research and worked in communities for over ten years. I have completed 3 health impact assessments.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.