Even though we've tried to put it in multiple places, details about the how and why we put high value on this work isn't always clear, and we're looking for the strengths in Flint (in different ways). Hopefully the info below more clearly connects the contextual dots.
The Flint Water Crisis is a community-wide traumatic event, and since the onset, has triggered direct and vicarious traumatic responses for Flint community members and their families. There are multiple events and considerations bounded within the crisis: media attention, suspicion and distrust of local leaders, mistrust in government, placement and removal of water resources, new economic problems, emotional stress for families, legionella outbreak worries, physical health (e.g. skin) concerns, older adult & immunocompromised health worries and resource needs, and cognitive/behavioral concerns for small children. This package of problems was compounded by pre-existing conditions in Flint; this included limited employment opportunities, longstanding issues with violence and poverty, school quality concerns, limited community-wide trust, and strained competitive rather than collaborative community relationships. Flint has been chronically stressed for years, and the Flint Water Crisis has propelled the resilient spirit of Flint to extend beyond meeting survival needs, and toward new sustainable practices and strategies that allow and encourage the Flint community to thrive and redefine success and wellbeing for future generations.
The Flint Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma (ReCAST) program is one strategy we are using to support our community in response to this community-wide traumatic event, and the resulting direct and secondary traumatic experiences as well. Flint-ReCAST is a SAMHSA funded initiative through the City of Flint in partnership with Michigan State University. Our efforts are informed by the clinical and community expertise of our team, along with my research on the health vulnerabilities associated with various chronic stressors, defined within a population health/health equity framework. We use a population health equity framework to promote trauma-informed evidence-based approaches to improve public health, well-being, and resiliency in Flint. Our deliberate use of traditional clinical-focused trauma informed practices with community health for the purpose of supporting well-being of our youth, adults, families, and community demonstrates the importance of integrating social work, clinical, and population health principles to improve our communities.