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Invitation to get involved in Creating Community Solutions on mental health

ccs-logoOn January 16, 2013, President Obama called for a “national conversation to increase understanding about mental health,” and directed Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services and Secretary Arne Duncan of the U.S. Dept of Education to launch a National Dialogue on Mental Health. The national dialogue was officially launched by Obama on June 3rd at the White House.

As you may know from my persistent emails and tweets, NCDD is involved in an exciting initiative called Creating Community Solutions, which is a key part of the national dialogue.

For the past several months, I’ve been working closely with some great colleagues to help ensure that our community plays an important role in this effort…


Our team, led by the National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona, includes AmericaSpeaks, Everyday Democracy, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, The National Issues Forums Institute and the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, working in concert with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The national dialogue will take place through…

  1. Community conversations. Several cities (including Albuquerque, Sacramento, Birmingham, Kansas City, Akron, and Washington, DC) will host structured conversations facilitated members of the Creating Community Solutions team — and supported by those cities’ mayors — that will result in community-specific action plans. Other communities across the country may join in by utilizing SAMHSA’s Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Health to help host their own conversations. And anyone interested in joining the dialogue can participate at TheCivicCommons.com/mentalhealth.
  2. Public/private partnership commitments. National associations of schools, faith based groups, medical providers, and others are being asked to commit to including some form of mental health awareness or discussion in their upcoming activities. Combined with the facilitated conversations happening in communities across the country, this will help ensure the dialogue has nationwide reach.
  3. Social and online media — including the launch of MentalHealth.gov and Storify.com/MentalHealthGov.

See the June 3rd press release from Creating Community Solutions for more details.

Already, dozens of NCDD members have stepped forward as partners, hosts, facilitators, and supporters of what our team believes will be a unique opportunity to not only make an impact on a critically important public issue, but to demonstrate to those we usually can’t reach that there IS a better way to engage communities on complex issues. This is also a unique learning opportunity for NCDD, and for all of us, to see what we can accomplish when we combine forces.

I would love to see all of you involved in this initiative!  Check out the map on the homepage of the website to see if a dialogue is already being planned near you. If you are interested in hosting a dialogue or getting involved in any other capacity, sign up at www.creatingcommunitysolutions.org and fill out the contact form here. If you are already involved, I encourage you to add a comment here to let other NCDDers know what you’ll be contributing.

Resources will also be available to launch a dialogue in your community at www.creatingcommunitysolutions.org/resources. More information will be posted on Facebook and Twitter.

And join us in the online dialogue at www.theciviccommons.com/mentalhealth — where we’ve set the stage for online dialogue with a group of extraordinary NCDD members volunteering as moderators!

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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We always encourage a lively exchange of ideas, whether online or off. Questions? Please feel free to contact us directly.

  1. The Lois B. Hollis Center for Public Deliberation and Participation in the Master of Public Administration Program at Albany State University (Georgia) will host a training for launching a Creating Community Solutions series for Southwest Georgia to hold community conversations. The training will review the CCS toolkit and create a steering committee. It will be held on Saturday, October 5, 2013 from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm in Eula Lovett Hall on the campus of Albany State University. Persons can register at our event link at the Creating Community Solutions website.

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