LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans School of Public Health will receive $2.5 million to improve resilience and mental health outcomes in six communities in south Louisiana that experience weather-related and man-made disasters. The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded the grant. This project represents an under-developed area of research on climate change.
“By establishing a community-partnered learning collaborative and research network, this project will allow us to test and promote practices that can strengthen resilience.,” notes the grant’s principal investigator Dr. Benjamin Springgate, associate professor of clinical medicine and health policy and systems management at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans Schools of Medicine and Public Health. “The project team will work with community stakeholders in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and coastal south Louisiana, but we think our results will be adaptable to other Gulf States and beyond.”
Goals of the project include: a rapid assessment of how well the communities currently address resilience; determining how to best promote improved mental health resilience by comparing two approaches – providing agencies with technical resources to assist clients, or supporting community planning by agencies and individuals to adapt and improve technical resources for local context and use; as well as comparing two mobile phone based applications to enhance skills to cope with stress and offer resources to enhance resilience. The research will also conduct case studies on the development of the collaborative research network, of how community planning and engagement coalitions use strategies to address depression and broader resilience, and to support stakeholders in developing policy recommendations.
“The research will focus on under-resourced communities with disparities in exposure to disasters and social determinants of health like poverty,” adds Dr. Springgate. “Building upon existing partnerships, our team will engage stakeholders in the research and mixed-methods for evaluating effects of interventions on community and individual resilience outcomes for adults receiving services in health and community-based programs in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and coastal south Louisiana.”
Partners in the project include Resilient Baton Rouge; the Community and Patient Partnered Research Network; Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program; Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development; Greater New Orleans, Inc.; Healthy African Families II; Louisiana Community Health Outreach Network; Louisiana Department of Health; St. Anna’s Episcopal Church; Tulane University; University of California – Los Angeles; and University of Southern California.