A Restorative Practices Strategy to Advance Community Health
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The field of community health aims to improve the social determinants of health which can reduce health disparities and enhance health equity. Models such as the social-ecological model are commonly used by community health professionals to show the interplay of social and other factors as supporting or inhibiting a community’s health. In this paper, the evolution of the community health field is traced, leading up to the recent U.S. Surgeon General’s report, Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation. The author suggests that, in addition to the work that has been done to identify key factors and dynamics, it is necessary to focus explicitly on how we strengthen relationships and community. Integrating principles from the social-ecological model, a new model is presented to describe how restorative practices can be used to advance community health goals by focusing on social connection, facilitating community engagement, fostering positive social norms, nurturing collaboration, addressing harm and healing, and increasing equity in systems and policy. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
- Gina Baral Abrams, Dr.P.H., Ed.M., LSW, MCHES®