Building Resiliency in Watts

Health Net

October 31, 2018

Childhood trauma should not determine the course of the rest of your life. Research shows that meaningful interventions can help offset negative impacts of childhood trauma, allowing healing and positive growth.

A study by the Center for Collective Wisdom on the impact of childhood trauma across a person’s life found that “the life expectancy of a person with six or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is 20 years shorter than a person with no ACEs.” In response to studies like these, Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health has been assembling stakeholders to address community and childhood trauma in South Los Angeles. This past September, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Department of Public Health opened the Community Healing and Trauma Prevention Center at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Public Health.

The impact of community and childhood trauma on health and wellness is also a priority for Health Net. Community stakeholders throughout the state have convened on the issue, and local interventions within the most vulnerable communities have taken place with the help of Health Net’s Community Connections Forum (CCF) and other organizations.

In partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles, Health Net recently hosted 50 community-based organizations, service providers and government agencies in South Los Angeles at one of its CCFs. Multiple discussions were held on culturally appropriate strategies and inclusive approaches to help children and families heal from the impacts of trauma.

Building resilient communities

Why did Health Net micro-target the Watts-Willowbrook community? Simply put, to help build a strong and vibrant community. Creating a solid support system that will allow community members to have a safe space in response to their physical and emotional needs is critical in ensuring a prosperous future. Research has shown that in Medi-Cal-serviced communities, trauma can lead to poor mental and physical health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic events that have happened early on in a child’s life can also lead to chronic health conditions, low life potential (i.e. lower graduation and employment rates) and high-risk behavior, and may ultimately lead to premature death. Through community-building interventions like this, the hope is to create a safe and long-term support system in these communities to help those most in need.

The bigger economic picture

Health Net’s goal is to add to the conversation and enhance the dialogue that takes place around community resiliency. We hope to work with communities to find solutions and promote healing, while providing support to trauma victims. These models can be utilized in any area and can lead to healthier communities.

Through partnerships with local organizations and community leaders, the needs of the community will be clear, and the CCF – or other models – can ultimately make a socioeconomic impact on the Watts community and other like it. It is critical for organizations and stakeholders, like Health Net, to continue to ensure that conversations like this are ongoing and impactful.

The CCF model works through rich collaboration with different community stakeholders so that real health and wellness solutions can be implemented in communities of need. We know that when we manage a person’s health holistically, communities are provided with all the tools necessary to be successful and prosperous. Trauma should not determine the trajectory of a community, and we hope to continue working on creating a safe space for meaningful dialogue that can lead to healing and lifelong success.

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