Reducing Social Isolation: The community feedback period for this idea began on 12/6/2018 and ended on 2/5/2019. *STATUS UPDATE*

What is the problem that needs to be addressed? Please describe how it is related to mental health.
Social isolation, depression, anomie, loneliness

Why is this a concern for Orange County? What can Orange County and other counties learn from this project?
Social isolation reduces quality of life and is a mortality risk factor. We have a low-cost intervention that we think could reduce social isolation, mental health problems and improve well-being and emotional health.

What is currently being done to resolve this problem in our county and throughout the United States? If applicable: Is it working; why or why not?
We don’t believe our idea has ever been evaluated as a general mental health promotion intervention. Because it would be low cost and simple to implement, it should be tested.

What is new or different about this project idea? Please describe how this differs from what is already being done (Question 6). Please list any research that was done on this topic.
We are proposing to schedule block parties in neighborhoods where social exclusion may be a risk and determine whether these scheduled events that introduce people to their neighbors increases social interactions, feeling of community and belong and feelings of well being

What is the project idea? Please describe how this project will operate.
We would schedule block parties in 2-3 neighborhoods and compare resident mental health outcomes to similar neighborhoods where we don’t schedule block parties.

Additional Information:
Respondent skipped this question

November 20, 2018


Thank you for your submission. The innovation team needs additional information to explore this proposed idea. Please elaborate on your responses as best as possible so that we may work through our review process.

• Would there be a community planning, engagement or assessment period within the program?
• What criteria would be used in order to choose the neighborhoods?
• What would the learning objectives be and how would they be measured?
• Would there be a focus on a particular age group or other group?
• How do you envision the block parties being structured?

• What would the learning objectives be and how would they be measured?
From this study we aim to learn:
1) Whether individual health and wellbeing outcomes can be improved by offering routine block parties. We will assess outcomes such as psychological distress, perceived quality of life, hope, and loneliness and isolation.
2) Whether neighborhood social ties can be created or strengthened through block parties. We will assess social connections, sense of community, and neighboring attitudes and behaviors.
3) The feasibility of implementing neighborhood block parties as an intervention. Lessons will derive from the recruitment, coordination, planning, and implementation of the block party. An evaluation of the process will provide implications for improving any future block party planning, as well as recommendations that could be relevant and useful to community organizations and individuals wishing to plan such events.

• What criteria would be used in order to choose the neighborhoods?
We will select blocks in middle- and/or low-income neighborhoods. These will be pair- matched to demographically and structurally similar blocks. Depending on the funding available and the level of rigor in which the concept should be tested, we can select as few as 2 blocks (1 intervention and 1 comparison) or preferably 12 blocks, (6 intervention and 6 comparison, half in lower income neighborhoods and half in higher income neighborhoods. When matching intervention and comparison neighborhoods we will consider not only income and racial/ethnic makeup, but also presence of community organizations; parks, community gardens, and shared community spaces; walkability; crime data; ratio of housing units to commercial or industrial land; and others. The overall selection of the blocks in the neighborhoods should be random. However, the selection of the neighborhoods can either be random based on socio-economic criteria from the US Census block data, or be done in concert with Orange County, selecting communities based on perceived need.

• Would there be a community planning, engagement or assessment period within the program?
In both the intervention and comparison blocks we will first conduct an assessment, and offer a modest incentive for all the local residents to complete surveys assessing their mental health and well-being. In the block that is randomized for the intervention, we will also identify and recruit 1-2 individuals who lived are willing to assist in planning and implementing the block parties—at least 2 each year for the following 2 years. Then it will be up to these individuals and the neighbors to plan and coordinate the events. We will assist with any permits and pay any fees needed to close the streets, as well as assist with providing flyers to let people know about the events. We can offer to assist with providing tables and chairs for the event.
After 2 years we would go back to both intervention and comparison blocks and repeat the assessment of mental health and well-being offering an incentive for completion (eg gift cards). In the intervention blocks we will also conduct structured interviews for a more qualitative assessment of people’s perceptions of the block parties and their impacts.

• Would there be a focus on a particular age group or other group?
No, the block party is for everyone who lives on the block regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity. We expect the residents will be diverse. The intervention will be appropriate for individuals and families of all ages. We will assess outcomes for individuals ages 18 and older. Where possible, analyses will break out effects or benefits for older adults, a population at higher risk for decreased social connection and increased loneliness and isolation.

• How do you envision the block parties being structured?
The event structure will be determined by the 1-2 neighborhood residents who plan the event. Our team will offer assistance with permits and materials. In theory, we would recommend a pot-luck event, music, and a structured meet and greet icebreaker. Specific activities can be planned based on the age distribution of local residents. There could be some games for children and/or party games planned for adults. We will share a handbook recommended activities that the organizers may want to consider once they volunteer.

Thank you for your idea submission. Upon review and discussion, it was determined that this idea would not be feasible to implement. The Innovation team is unable to continue exploring this idea under the MHSA Innovation component as proposed.

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