Social Change in Miami Mental Public Health Review

Pages: 7 (2185 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 16  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Public Administration  ·  Written: December 17, 2019

The most effective social change strategies take multiple factors into account.

The social norms related to mental health will also have a strong impact on whether a person will perceive stigma or lack of support. Likewise, social norms will affect the individual’s outlook on life, promoting either an optimistic or pessimistic worldview. As Swearer & Hymel (2015) point out in a social-ecological model related to bullying prevention, peer group influences, family influences, community factors, and cultural influences can also have strong bearings on either risks or protective factors.

Protective factors provide the individual or family with coping strategies and other means to build resilience. Biophysical protective factors include overall sound physical health and healthy lifestyle. Psychological protective factors include a positive outlook, high self-esteem or self-efficacy, emotional intelligence, trust in the mental healthcare system, and willingness to accept help. Protective social factors include access to financial and social resources, engagement with family and community, access to mental health services, and participation in mental health services such as counseling or support groups. The goal of any social change initiative should be to decrease risk factors and increase protective factors for all target populations.


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  1. American Mental Wellness Association (2019). Risk and protective factors. Retrieved from
  2. Cramer, R.J. & Kapusta, N.D. (2017). A social-ecological framework of theory, assessment, and prevention of suicide. Frontiers in Psychology 2017(8): doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01756
  3. Swearer, S. M., & Hymel, S. (2015). Understanding the psychology of bullying: Moving toward a social-ecological diathesis–stress model. American Psychologist, 70(4), 344-353

Review on Social Change in Miami Mental Public Health Assignment


Theories of prevention typically start with education. Education can transform values and norms, improving attitudes towards mental health in general and increasing the extent and strength of social support networks throughout the community (Laureate International Universities, 2018). Furthermore, educational institutions provide formal support systems such as free peer support groups, free or affordable counseling services, and referral services to students and other members of the community. By focusing on risk and protective factors, the social-ecological model is congruent with theories of prevention. In addition to the biopsychosocial theory of mental health, other applicable theories of prevention include developmental theory, social cognitive theory, health belief theory/model, the stages of change theory, and the theory of planned behavior (Min, Lee & Lee, 2013). Applied to the problem of criminalization of mental health issues in Miami, the social-ecological model for prevention provides the most comprehensive insight into how to anticipate the needs of diverse sub-populations, offer culturally-appropriate and age-appropriate outreach and advocacy services, and also uproot some of the underlying issues that trigger stress among individuals, families, and communities. Prevention also includes a thorough assessment of the existing political and policy concerns that impact mental health services. While Miami is leading the nation in progressive interventions that divert the mentally ill from the criminal justice system, there is still more that can be done to reduce rates of preventable violent and nonviolent crime through effective public policy.

  1. Laureate International Universities (2018). Educating Uganda’s Future Community Leaders. Retrieved from
  2. Min, J., Lee, C. & Lee, C. (2013). Mental health promotion and illness prevention. Psychiatry Investigation 10(4): 307-316.


Diversity is key to any public policy in Miami, Florida. The assessment methods need to be sensitive to the target population, taking into account the specific risk and protective factors for different ethnic groups. Likewise, the proposed interventions and prevention programs need to be specific, not generalized. The social-ecological model provides the best means by which to create culturally sensitive social change initiatives.

Mental illness does not discriminate, affecting persons from all walks of life indiscriminately. However, criminalization of mental health does leave open the potential to worsen disparities. Research specific to Miami shows that Hispanics and African Americans are perceived of as threats more often than whites, leading to disproportionate rates of non-whites with mental illness being diversted to the criminal justice system (Eitle & Taylor, 2008). An effective social change intervention will help educate the community about how to recognize behavioral markers of mental illness, enabling members of the community and of law enforcement to respond without discrimination.

Furthermore, it is important to ensure that all members of the community continue to have equal access to mental health services as early as possible. Screening in public schools is one possible way to intervene at the first warning signs, which could prevent some mental illnesses from erupting into criminal behaviors. Educating the public through culturally-appropriate media and forums, such as through faith-based organizations, would also help reduce stigma about mental illness and raise awareness about how to respond to problematic behavior in friends and family members. A culturally sensitive approach to the criminalization of mental health would also involve the private sector, asking all small business owners to learn about warning signs and triggers, and offer employees information about how to access mental health services affordably and anonymously. Employers also need to be educated as to their legal obligations to not discrimnate against employees with mental illness, to ensure that all persons seek services and do not fear losing their jobs.

  1. Eitle, D. & Taylor, J. (2008). Are Hispanics the new threat? Social Science Research 37(4): 1102-1115.


Almost two decades ago in the year 2000, Miami-Dade County became a leader in providing a viable alternative to the criminalization of mental health with the creation of the Criminal Mental Health Project. The Miami-Dade Criminal Mental Health Project has since been “hailed as a national model for decriminalizing mental illness,” (Rivero & Green, 2019). The numbers are promising: leading to such dramatic drops in inmate populations that the county was even able to close a jail (Rivero & Green, 2019). Also promising is the new $22 million Miami Center for Mental Health and Recovery, designed also to “divert individuals with mental illness away from jails,” (Looker, 2019, p. 1). Yet more needs to be done in order to advocate for the most disadvantaged members of the population: the ones still lacking access to effective, accessible, and affordable mental health services. Perhaps more importantly, the Miami-Dade Criminal Mental Health Project needs to coincide with more aggressive legislative reform that will address the need for drug policy reform.

  1. Looker, R. (2019). Miami-Dade County builds center for mental health and recovery. NACO. Retrieved from
  2. Rivero, D. & Green, N. (2019). How Miami-Dade’s mental health program steers people to treatment, not jail. WJCT. 13 March, 2019. Retrieved from

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How to Cite "Social Change in Miami Mental Public Health" Review in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Social Change in Miami Mental Public Health.  (2019, December 17).  Retrieved June 21, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Social Change in Miami Mental Public Health."  17 December 2019.  Web.  21 June 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Social Change in Miami Mental Public Health."  December 17, 2019.  Accessed June 21, 2021.