APHA 2022 Session Catalog
Low-income, marginalized, and vulnerable patients, such as pregnant women and their children, are at the greatest risk of depression, yet they have the least access to mental health services. To determine the degree to which this inequity affects the Mecklenburg County community, a pilot study was conducted in WIC clinics and found that 24% of women screened positive for PPD (Coffman et al., 2020). This PPD rate is higher than that of the general population (16%), likely due to social and structural barriers that impact overall wellness and limit access to behavioral health services. To target at-risk perinatal populations, WIC clinics have been identified as sustainable and effective locations for behavioral health integration. However, integrating behavioral health and public health services is largely uncharted territory.
United by a shared vision to promote community health equity, an academic-public health department partnership was formed to launch the Holistic Opportunity Program for Everyone (H.O.P.E.) Initiative - a pioneering program designed to holistically identify and address the physical, nutritional, and behavioral health needs of patients. Academic-practice partnerships in public health can create an impact that is greater than the sum of its parts because each partner brings a fresh perspective to problem solving as it relates to community health. The H.O.P.E. Initiative has found success by envisioning its partnership not as a bridge between disparate research and practice, but instead as a table at which everyone is invited to lean into their unique strengths, build consensus, and adapt accordingly towards our merged interest to promote community health. By being so strongly integrated, H.O.P.E. data can immediately inform practice; likewise, practice informs research: both how it is conducted and interpreted. The purpose of this symposium is to bring light to the “blackbox” of effective academic-practice partnership. How does implementing a pilot, behavioral health program actually look within each domain of practice, including visionary leadership, informatics, behavioral health service provision, and clinic operations? Attendees will walk away with an understanding of ways to leverage academic-practice partnerships in public health to advance health equity and how to avoid common pitfalls when engaging in collaborations within and across agencies.