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Connected = Resilient

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines connectedness as the degree to which a person or group is socially close, interrelated, or shares resources with other persons or groups. This definition encompasses the nature and quality of connections both within and between multiple levels of the social ecology, including

  • connectedness between individuals;

  • connectedness of individuals and their families to community organizations; and

  • connectedness among community organizations and social institutions.

Connectedness between individuals can lead to increased frequency of social contact, lowered levels of social isolation and loneliness, and a higher number of positive relationships. Positive attachments between youth, their families and organizations in their community (including schools, youth-focused social services, and faith-based organizations) are important and can increase a sense of belonging, strengthen feelings of identity and personal worth, and provide access to greater sources of support. Strong formal relationships between organizations and support services can help better ensure services are delivered and promote the community’s sense of well-being.[1]


The existence of research showing a link between connectedness and wellbeing is one thing. Finding a way to use that research to affect outcomes in real peoples’ lives is something entirely different. In fact, over time, many of the same researchers who’ve discovered the potential promise of the connectedness concept have struggled to find ways to integrate this compelling science into everyday life in a truly meaningful way.


Still, a few diligent scholars have boiled down a formula for creating an intervention that reflects what is known from existing research on the role of social relationships and health. First, they suggest focusing on real, rather than artificial social networks. What that means is to find ways to leverage the social interactions people generate in their everyday lives rather than trying to artificially create situations where support might be found. Second, they provide three ways to do it: 1) by improving individual social skills or by building stronger ties to existing network members, 2), and 3) by reducing negative interactions.


Research on protective factors underscores the importance of enhancing social connections with peers, family, school, and community to reduce social isolation and risk for violence. [2] According to the Johns Hopkins evidence informed model of resistance, resilience and recovery, four of the measures needed to achieve resistance and the true sense of a prevention paradigm are:

· creating and nurturing close and peripheral ties between an individual and his or her community;

  • identification with a common purpose, goal, higher ideal;

  • identification with a group to foster group identity;

  • stress management training; and

  • provision of family support[3].

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Connectedness as a strategic direction for the prevention of suicidal behavior. Retrieved September 27, 2011 from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/Suicide_ Strategic_Direction_Full_Version-a.pdf


[2] Preventing Multiple Forms of Violence: A Strategic Vision for Connecting the Dots. Atlanta, GA: Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016.


[3] An Evidence-Informed Model of Human Resistance, Resilience, and Recovery: The Johns Hopkins’ Outcome-Driven Paradigm for Disaster Mental Health Services, Kaminsky M, McCabe OL, Langlieb AM, Everly GS. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention / 7:1 February 2007

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