New Orleans, LA

Making Connections New Orleans

Making Connections New Orleans

The city of New Orleans has experienced numerous types of trauma over the last decade—from catastrophic natural disasters to high levels of violence and unemployment. This has impacted the mental health and wellbeing of African-American men and boys in New Orleans severely. Fifty-two percent of African-American men in New Orleans are unemployed, and gun homicide rates in the city are among the highest in the country.

Making Connections New Orleans (MCNOLA) is working to create better mental health and wellbeing outcomes for African-American men and boys in the city’s St. Roch neighborhood. Through resident workshops, civic engagement, and neighborhood improvement and art projects, MCNOLA is creating positive norms and a culture that supports community hopefulness and togetherness.

How They're Solving the Problem

How They're Solving the Problem

Making Connections has helped to broaden the conversation to look at community-level strategies and to think more widely in terms of ways to address not only trauma but overall wellbeing. Making Connections has created the space for discussions around systemic oppression, community responsibility and responsiveness, and how those connect to an individual’s mental health. The coalition partners are collaborating to implement the following activities:

  • An eight-week healthy masculinity group which provides men with the chance to embrace healthy models of masculinity and reflect on the ways learned gender roles can support or undercut wellbeing for themselves and for their community. Together, these men form a network of trusting relationships while redefining masculinity.
  • The HOME (Helping Our Men Excel) group is a bi-monthly gathering that creates a space for all community residents to share a meal, strengthen relationships, and learn about resources for them and their neighbors. Sessions have covered topics like job readiness, hurricane preparedness, and mental health resources, all while centering on social connection. 
  • MCNOLA also supports People Organizing to Obtain Leadership, referred to by community members as the POOL Party. POOL is a diverse group of St. Roch residents whose goal is to influence community development and land-use decisions to promote wellness. Their first effort is to reopen St. Roch’s public pool. Before Hurricane Katrina, the pool brought people together—it was a symbol of community health, both physically and mentally.

 

Impact

Impact

MCNOLA has played an important role in the response to trauma in New Orleans. While many groups are responding to the community’s recent traumas, MCNOLA has been able to provide a unique perspective by shifting conversations and responses from a focus on deficits and individuals to a focus on community strengths and community-level wellbeing. The coalition has also helped improve mental health and wellbeing for men and boys in the St. Roch neighborhood by increasing the use of public spaces to facilitate art, recreation and cultural expression, and enhancing access to opportunities and services.

 

Participating Organizations

504HealthNet

The Arts Council of New Orleans/Project HEAL

Crescent Care

New Orleans Business Alliance

New Orleans Health Department

Tulane Prevention Research Center

WYRevolution

 

Check out this related podcast and video

Exploring Healthy Masculinities part 1 

Development Without Displacement

    

Photo Credit for All Photos: Making Connections New Orleans