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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Build and Sustain Healthy, Resilient Communities

National Health Security Strategy Strategic Objective 1

Community resilience is the sustained ability of communities to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity.  Because health is a key aspect of overall community resilience, this objective focuses on community health resilience—a community’s ability to use its assets to strengthen public health and healthcare systems and to improve the community’s physical, behavioral, and social health in order to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity. Building and sustaining community health resilience is a multi-sector undertaking that leverages community and individual assets, such as infrastructure, talents, skills, relationships, technology, and natural resources. 

The NHSS identifies three priorities to build and sustain healthy, resilient communities as well as related activities that national health security stakeholders— federal, state, and local governments, the private sector, the non-profit sector, community-based organizations, and the scientific and academic community—can undertake to support this objective. Partners play a key role in achieving and sustaining national health security. These priorities focus on encouraging social connectedness, enhancing coordination of health and human services through partnerships, and building a culture of resilience. 


Actions to support these priorities

Encourage Social Connectedness

Federal partners will

  • Work with academia to evaluate and report on the best uses of traditional and new media to promote social connections among community members
  • Work with state, local, territorial and tribal (SLTT) governments, community-based organizations, academia, and research organizations to coordinate research efforts to implement and translate health resilience research needs articulated in the national health security applied research agenda

Additional actions partners can take

  • State governments and professional societies can create templates and toolkits on community connectedness, social capital, and health resilience.  They can build on existing programs like America’s PrepareAthon!
  • Local governments can encourage community members to use social networking sites to strengthen neighbor-to-neighbor ties and explore uses of such sites for emergency response.  They can also encourage people to get to know their neighbors.  Sometimes, preparedness starts with saying hello. 
  • Local governments, community-based organizations, and the private sector can create evidence-based, culturally sensitive guidance to encourage community members to engage in resilience, response, and recovery activities
  • Community-based organizations and the faith community can identify at-risk individuals and connect them with personal and logistical support. 

Coordinate Health and Human Services

Federal partners will

  • Identify and disseminate culturally and linguistically appropriate promising practices to promote partnerships for community health resilience, response, and recovery
  • Work with academia and SLTT governments to guide the integration of culturally and linguistically appropriate community education materials for professionals on recovery planning

Additional actions partners can take

  • SLTT governments can map local assets for providing health and human services during and after incidents
  • SLTT governments, community-based organizations, the research sector, and federal partners can identify options for incentivizing human services providers to participate in Hospital Preparedness Program coalitions
  • SLTT governments and community-based organizations can cross-train public health, healthcare and human services professionals to improve recovery service provision
  • SLTT governments can work with community-based organizations to ensure that community leaders have access to behavioral health services

Build a Culture of Resilience

Federal partners will

  • Work with SLTT governments, community-based organizations, and academia to improve the dissemination and implementation of existing community health resilience learning opportunities for volunteers
  • Work with the private sector to develop a culturally and linguistically appropriate community health resilience guide for businesses on promoting employee health and preparing for disasters

Additional actions partners can take

  • SLTT governments, community-based organizations, and the private sector can promote general population training in health related areas such as first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), psychological first aid, and self- and family-care
  • Community-based organizations can use routine community meetings and events to disseminate information on health resilience and can sponsor events to encourage planning for incident response and recovery
  • State and local governments will encourage the identification of safe places for children post-disaster and effective supports to reconstitute routine child care services within the community
  • State and local government and nongovernmental organizations can implement trainings and exercises for volunteers on effective and educated bystander response
  • Non-federal stakeholders such as the private sector can promote volunteerism and participation in employer-sponsored wellness activities by recognizing and/or compensating employees for their efforts
  • SLTT governments, academia, community-based organizations, and the private sector can integrate messaging on health resilience into national educational initiatives such as America’s PrepareAthon! and annual influenza campaigns
  • Community-based organizations can partner with local governments to develop a messaging campaign to encourage donations through existing mechanisms such as the National Donations Management Network
  • SLTT governments and community-based organizations can partner with the state coordinator for volunteers to develop a volunteer and donations management plan and/or memoranda of understanding

  • This page last reviewed: February 13, 2015