Building thriving communities helps foster mental health and wellbeing for everyone. When community members feel connected and have safe places to gather, and when they have access to affordable housing and good jobs, they experience less stress and anxiety. Conversely, exposure to repeated violence, displacement, and other traumas—or Adverse Community Experiences—undermines communities’ and individuals’ wellbeing.

Prevention Institute collaborates with a range of community partners to shift policies, practices, and norms to create conditions that support mental health and resilience. We partner with community-based coalitions to shape strategies that reflect their priorities and draw on their history, culture, strengths, and assets. Transformation may start with creating a safe space for young men at a bike shop, or engaging faith leaders to help de-stigmatize depression, or connecting veterans to ease re-entry to civilian life. These community changes, large and small, along with the collaborations required to make them happen, ultimately strengthen mental health and wellbeing across communities.

Photo credit: Kokua Kalihi Valley/Honoulu Aina

Projects & Initiatives

PI works with a breadth of partners and communities to develop strategies and practices to keep people healthy and safe in the first place. Below is a selection of ongoing or recent projects.

  • Communities of Care

    Communities of Care is an initiative that supports collaborative approaches to wellbeing in the greater Houston Metropolitan Area, with a focus on children and youth of color and their families. Its goal is to strengthen efforts to transform the environments where people live, learn, work, play, and pray to support resilience, mental health, and wellbeing.

  • Making Connections Backpack

    The Making Connections Backpack is a resource library for those engaged in building a gendered and community-level approach to improving mental wellbeing among men and boys. It offers tools to shape your journey, and connect with others engaged in or supporting similar upstream prevention work. 

  • Young Organizers Circles

    The Young Organizers Circles are a monthly virtual session to connect with other young leaders across the globe, learn about topics you're curious about from passionate presenters, and reimagine what we can do together in our communities. In our first session, we talk about grassroots organizing – your experiences, important skills, stories from leaders, and more.

  • Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience: Understanding, Addressing and Preventing Community Trauma

    Until now, there has been no basis for understanding how community trauma undermines resilience and mental wellbeing, especially in communities highly impacted by violence, and what can be done about it. With the support of Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit, PI and Dr. Howard Pinderhughes developed the Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience (ACE|R) framework. PI also works with communities, sectors, and policymakers to address and prevent community trauma, and to foster community resilience.

Publications & Other Resources

We research and write reports, white papers, fact sheets, opinion pieces, and journal articles, as well as produce videos and podcasts. Here are some of our latest offerings.

  • Back to our Roots - Community Determinants and Pillars of Wellbeing Advance Resilience and Healing

    Mental health is at the heart of many of the challenges we face, including trauma and adverse childhood experiences, social isolation, institutionalized bias and discrimination, and ‘diseases of despair’ that manifest in depression, suicide, and substance misuse. Addressing social determinants of health is key to helping communities navigate adversity, heal, and flourish. PI’s report, Back to Our Roots: Catalyzing Community Action for Mental Health and Wellbeing, illustrates how improving community conditions can reduce the incidence and intensity of mental health challenges, and help activate resilience.

  • Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience: A Framework for Addressing and Preventing Community Trauma

    This first-of-its-kind framework explores trauma at a community level. It explains how trauma is produced not only by experiencing interpersonal violence but also by experiencing structural violence – the harm that individuals, families, and communities experience from the economic and social structure; social institutions; and social relations of power, privilege and inequity that inhibit them from meeting their basic needs.

  • Beyond Screening: Achieving California's Bold Goal of Reducing Exposure to Childhood Trauma

    California’s state government can play a vital role in facilitating and supporting efforts to improve community-wide health, safety, and wellbeing, by reducing exposure to trauma, and increasing individual and community resilience. This report explores prevention and healing approaches that strengthen mental health and wellbeing, support communities to heal from trauma, and build community resilience. 

  • What? Why? How? Answers to FAQ's about the ACE|R Framework

    What? Why? How? Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About the Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience Framework builds off of core concepts in the Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience Framework and addresses questions that have emerged in early practice and implementation.

  • Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience: Learning from Practice

    Since the initial development of the Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience Framework in 2016, multiple networks and communities have shared it, as well as adopted, adapted and/or implemented it to address and prevent community trauma. Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience: Learning from Practice reflects valuable lessons from their practice.

Tools & Services

We have developed a broad range of practical, free-to-use tools to guide practitioners, advocates, and policymakers in planning and implementing  prevention strategies. We also provide services to help you use our tools to create healthy and safe communities.

  • The Spectrum of Prevention

    The Spectrum of Prevention is a systematic tool that promotes a multifaceted range of activities for effective prevention. The Spectrum identifies multiple levels of intervention and helps people move beyond the perception that prevention is merely education and serves as a framework for a more comprehensive understanding of prevention that includes six levels for strategy development.

Profiles in Action

These profiles, written by PI and our partners, show what community prevention looks like on the ground, all across the country.

  • Legends of Lawndale

    MC Team Lead Becca Krauss is a psychotherapist at Mount Sinai Hospital. Advancing mental health requires clinical expertise and recognition that wellbeing happens at a community level. When violent crime is common, so are trauma and toxic stress which play out in settings like classrooms and playgrounds.

  • The Making Connections Hub

    UWEAST and its partner organizations work to prevent suicide. They have opened up a dialogue about mental health with community members; encouraged faith leaders to speak out about post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicide; and partnered with other local organizations to provide young men with leadership and career development training.