Mental wellbeing has a tremendous impact on the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Now is the time to implement a comprehensive approach to mental health and wellbeing that:

  • Incorporates community prevention as a complement to clinical care and long term recovery supports
  • Focuses on specific community conditions like housing and social networks
  • Intentionally embeds healing values like safety and trust
  • Includes strategies that embrace gender and cultural diversity; address oppression and discrimination on the basis of gender and culture

This approach can produce multiple benefits, including:

  • Promotion of resilience and healing
  • Reduction of stigma and trauma
  • Strengthening of healthy social norms
  • Reduction of the severity of mental health problems, suffering, and associated costs


This is Part 2 of the Web Forum series on community mental health and wellbeing. The presenters will provide an overview of the Making Connections for Mental Wellbeing initiative. Examples from their community-driven efforts to improve mental health and wellbeing will highlight:

  • The importance of food sovereignty to mental wellbeing
  • Rural approaches to improve mental health
  • Urban approaches including those that address violence
  • Youth-focused strategies that include sport and play

This Web Forum is recommended for public health professionals, healthcare providers, behavioral health providers, community based organizations, faith-based organizations, and philanthropy/funders. Registration is free, thanks to support from the Prevention Institute and Blue Shield of California Foundation. Closed captioning will be available for all attendees.


Please visit Back to Our Roots: Exploring the History of Community Mental Health and Identifying Strategies to Advance Population Wide Mental Health and Wellbeing to learn about Part 1 in the series.


Ruben Cantu

Program Manager

Prevention Institute

Oakland, CA

Ruben Cantu is a program manager for community trauma, mental health, and violence prevention at Prevention Institute. He has more than 20 years of nonprofit experience in public health, equity, program and organizational management, and technical assistance and capacity building. Previously Associate Director at the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Ruben…

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Jack Callahan

Psychotherapist and Program Coordinator, Under the Rainbow

Mt. Sinai Hospital

Chicago, IL

Jack Callahan is a Psychotherapist and Program Coordinator at Under The Rainbow, an outpatient behavioral health clinic at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Chicago. Jack specializes in the treatment of children and adolescents and has spent most of his career working in Chicago's more vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. As a Program…

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Marcus Williams

Youth Board Director

Legends of Lawndale

Chicago, IL

Marcus Williams is an 18-year-old member of the North Lawndale community in Chicago and an advocate for health and wellness in his community. Marcus has been a member of the BAM mentoring program throughout his high school career and currently serves as a Youth Board Director and a Youth Coach for…

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Sheila Savannah, MA

Program Director

Prevention Institute

Oakland, CA

Sheila provides leadership on health equity, mental health and violence prevention focus areas. In her leadership role on mental health, she focuses on its intersection with community resilience, and the social determinants of health; with projects aimed at improving outcomes for boys and men of color, and addressing trauma through…

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Dean Jackson


Hilltop Urban Gardens

Tacoma, WA

  • , 253 Making Connections Initiative , Tacoma, WA

Dean Jackson is a Black, genderqueer farmer living in Tacoma, WA. They are founder and director of Hilltop Urban Gardens (HUG) - a social justice organization working to develop systems of food sovereignty and create racial and economic justice. HUG's work centers the leadership and vision of Black and LGBTQ…

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Larissa Estes, DrPH

Program Manager

Prevention Institute

Oakland, CA

Larissa Estes, DrPH, joined the Health System Transformation and Mental Health and Wellbeing teams at Prevention Institute in September 2015. Larissa has served as a key author is several publications at Prevention Institute on Accountable Communities for Health, Medical High Utilization, and Mental Health and Wellbeing. She is interested in…

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