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Community Mental Health

This article first appeared in the “CAM™ Volunteer Guide” published by HIR Wellness Institute on September 27, 2023.

Community Mental Health (CMH) as a verb: It represents a group of people and their collective state of ill to wellbeing that fluctuates, ebbs and flows in response to the system it supports and builds off of the collective memory and reciprocity of the past, present and future generations of that group.

Community Mental Health (CMH) as a noun: It is a space that is collectively shared by a group of people who share a commonality and belonging of space, resources, and social norms over time. CMH is measured by understanding the interplay of the collectives’ overall personal mental health status and these individuals’ influence on collective social and communal experiences, awareness, and feeling. Keeping the word “mental” for CMH will extend to a collective consciousness from personal to communal awareness. A collective “theory of mind” where others are able to understand mental states within them and around them.

Community mental health is a collective state of consciousness, being, and living.

Community Mental Health is as much as individual mental health as is air to our lungs. Community Mental Health requires having an ongoing pulse of the health and wellness of a community’s ecosystem (environment, systems, resources, services) and how these influence, impact, and interplay with individual, familial, and communal health outcomes. Mental health and community mental health are of the same coin, interdependent on one another. Community Mental Health refers to the collective consciousness, group think, values, attitudes, norms, and beliefs that determine how the community perceives, thinks, understands, accepts specific experiences to be recognized as problematic, traumatizing, stressful, or unwell.

Clients = Consumers = Commodity

Relatives = Connection = Community

If connection is currency, then relationships are priceless.

- Lea S. Denny

In essence, community mental health recognizes that mental well-being is a shared responsibility, and that the overall health of a community is intrinsically linked to the mental health of its members. The concept of community mental health helps us understand the importance of creating a supportive, inclusive, and equitable environment that promotes mental well-being for all. A mentally healthy community is a stronger and more vibrant community.


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