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A Guide for Health Systems to Save Lives

A Guide for Health Systems to Save Lives from “Deaths of Despair” and Improve Community Well-Being Institute for Healthcare Improvement & Wellbeing Trust, December 2020

This guide is a resource for health care systems to improve mental health and well-being in the communities they serve, focusing specifically on saving lives from deaths of despair as a result of the pandemic. The guide applies a population-based approach, centered on equity. The guide endeavors to provide a comprehensive framework in which multiple stakeholders (e.g., people from marginalized populations and communities and leaders in sectors such as health care, education, justice system, local government, employers) can identify themselves and their contributions. A specific emphasis is placed on the role of health care systems in impacting the care they deliver and leveraging all of their assets to improve the health of populations and communities.


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