What is a community coalition?
Coalitions can be a loaded term, and it can be very different from community to community. Some communities may opt for a more formal coalition who meet on a regular schedule and have more formal plans. Other coalitions may prefer an informal style with a group who comes together in the evening or weekends at a coffee shop or local events. There is no right prescription!
Within the project, we see coalitions as a group of citizens that are working together in the way that works for them. It includes bringing together diverse stakeholders (i.e., agency and non-agency community members, educators, family members, local governments, businesses, and more) to determine what a mentally healthy community with mentally healthy people looks like locally. Coalitions are encouraged to participate in collective decision-making to determine which mental health pillars and actions need attention. Together, coalitions may:
- Discover – Exploring and mapping the community to learn more about their community, their dreams and dissatisfaction, and more. This includes learning about the perspectives of others on community wellbeing. It can also include learning about the assets that are already there, and building on those strengths in creative ways. Together, the community can create a collective vision or “north star” that guides what they would like to achieve in their community to be a more mentally healthy place.
- Develop – Beginning to decide which areas are important to get started immediately and which can be considered in the future. The aim is to start with the ideas that are already attracting attention and energy. These discussions can help the community to create a Transformational Roadmap and Action Plans surrounding those mental health and community wellbeing priorities.
- Design – Detailing the plans and logistics that align with the Roadmap and Action Plans; thinking about working across different initiatives and agencies or groups to increase impact.
- Deploy – Taking action! This includes making adjustments and paying attention to patterns or opportunities that are beginning to grow.
- Debrief – Reflecting, observing, and learning from one another. It is key to hear and learn from all insights and perspectives, share stories (the good and the bad), and celebrate the wins! Together, this reflection can help inform a new Discovery (see above).
Can’t find a coalition in your community? Contact your local FCSS office/ local indigenous organization to join the Rural Mental Health Network.