Healthier Delray Beach
Connecting you to a Healthy Life
Healthier Delray Beach launched in fall 2014 with a focus in The Set, the city’s African-American neighborhoods. Healthier Delray Beach is intentionally disrupting longstanding power dynamics by moving decision-making control from systems and organizations to community residents and community-driven efforts. As an initiative, Healthier Delray Beach strives to serve as a trusted advocate for the behavioral health needs of the Delray Beach community by creating awareness, encouraging acceptance and equity, and developing a system of care. Achievement Centers for Children & Families serves as fiscal agent.
To serve as a trusted advocate for the behavioral health needs of the Delray Beach community by creating awareness, encouraging acceptance and equity, and developing a system of care.
To have a community-run network of equitable care.
Healthier Delray Beach is working to bring change where it is needed most by increasing:
Spreading the word about behavioral health and how it impacts our daily lives
Offering workshops and trainings to the community and working with systems to encourage equitable practices
Bringing behavioral health services to residents where they are
Community Capacity Building
Supporting residents to utilize their talents and skills to serve our community
- To increase community connectedness
- To increase access to equitable care
As a result, Delray Beach will have greater community health and well-being.
To increase community connectedness, Healthier Delray Beach is:
- Preserving and strengthening the natural community supports.
- Creating connections between residents and systems in an effort to stimulate new supportive relationships.
- Supporting and investing in opportunities for residents to contribute their expertise and knowledge.
To increase access to equitable care, Healthier Delray Beach is:
- Sharing power and decision-making with residents by creating a feedback loop that begins and ends with residents (looping through to partners and systems).
- Working with the community to develop standards of care for the Delray Beach Network to offer and sustain services.
- Directing Delray Beach Network partners in standards of care and additional practices that value health equity.
Our core programs are:
- The Delray Beach City Commission invited the project director of Healthier Delray Beach to write the health and wellness component of the city’s new comprehensive plan—the first time it had been updated in twenty years. The earlier version did not have any mention of health and wellness, giving the project director a blank slate for including what residents had shared as their priorities to fulfill community needs. The plan addressed mental health and substance abuse to issues of recreation and green space. Equitable language was woven throughout. The city asked the project director to make the presentation to the commissioners and she brought along partners from the Delray Beach Drug Task Force and Parks and Recreation Department to demonstrate their support of the plan.
- Resident leaders have been engaged in meaningful ways and exposed to opportunities for personal and professional growth they may not be otherwise afforded. Through their efforts, behavioral health is being addressed across resident-led initiatives in the city’s churches, a local barber shop and through Mental Health First Aid training opportunities, specifically:
- A barber shop in Delray Beach has become a model for creating a comfortable space for men of color to talk about behavioral health after receiving a mini-grant from Healthier Delray Beach. “Cutz and Conversation” is free to members of the community to come together and discuss personal struggles facilitated by a licensed therapist in the barber shop’s familiar setting. The shop owner was invited to share the program at the annual conference for the Association of Black Psychologists.
- Healthier Delray Beach’s leadership in introducing Mental Health First Aid throughout the city influenced the Delray Beach Police Department to institutionalize the training for all officers. The training was a catalyst for the next step the department took—hiring their first full-time licensed behavioral health professional. The chief of police retains a close connection to Healthier Delray Beach as a steering committee member.
- Atlantic Community High School students started a behavioral health club called TeenLife in HDb. It has been replicated in other Delray Beach schools and was recently selected as a Leadership Palm Beach County’s Breakthroughs Project where it will be rolled out to ten additional schools throughout the county. The teens began a mental health awareness campaign called “Get Your Green On,” which has been adopted as a county-wide month-long campaign every May.
Delray Beach is a close-knit community with a strong identity and history of community organizing. What began with organizational and system partners turned quickly to increasing community engagement. If Healthier Delray Beach was to be community led, there was clarity that the community needed to be actively engaged in all aspects to shape the initiative.
Where We Stumbled
Healthier Delray Beach being one of the first two established Healthier Together communities, Palm Health Foundation was learning alongside the initiative. Early on the foundation was seeking very clinically orientated impacts around behavioral health, which would mean change among organizations and systems. The steering committee and community influencers wrestled with this approach in relation to equity, which took time to navigate. Eventually, Healthier Delray Beach broadened their definition of behavioral health to include community factors, and most importantly, power dynamics limiting the community’s ability to create their own change.
Where We Thrived
Healthier Delray Beach set conditions to have difficult conversations about race, power and privilege. In creating these conditions, the ripple effect has been significant. With the clarity to keep equity central to the work, Healthier Delray Beach enlisted others to join in the conversation which continues today.
The Tipping Point
After being exposed to the Racial Equity Institute’s two-day workshop, members of the Healthier Delray Beach initiative channeled their experiences into addressing equitable practices not only among provider organizations, but in the way the initiative itself showed up and did the work. Framing behavioral health through an equity lens helped the group focus their efforts and engage residents as authentic partners in the community change process. An example is the Build Our Blocks initiative where residents could submit ideas to improve their neighborhood’s behavioral health and their fellow neighbors voted on which projects would receive funding.