Impact of Poverty on Individual and Community Health Explored in May 18 Conference

Yale Department of Psychiatry's Division for Prevention and Community Research will sponsor a conference titled "The Impact of Poverty on Individual and Community Health" on May 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Harkness Auditorium, 333 Cedar St.

The conference is free and open to the public and will examine the connection between poverty and the health of individuals and communities. Topics include how poverty places people at risk for increased mental or physical illness, substance abuse, HIV, homelessness, and poor school performance. Speakers will also focus on programs that can reduce risk and enhance resilience.

"This conference provides a unique opportunity to learn about the latest research findings and to hear about current efforts that are making a difference in New Haven," said conference chair, Bret Kloos, associate research scientist in psychiatry.

Kloos said that although poverty is frequently acknowledged as a contributing factor to health problems, the risk factors associated with poverty are often unaddressed in current health care practice and policy. "This conference brings a national expert on the influence of socioeconomic and racial factors on health together with Yale researchers and New Haven leaders," said Kloos.

The conference will focus on responses to conditions that put people at greater risk for health-related problems and programs that promote resilience. The morning keynote speaker, David R. Williams, will discuss "Social Determinants of Disease: The Enigma of Racial Inequalities in Health." Williams is a professor of sociology and a senior research scientist at the Institute for Social Research, and a faculty associate in the African American Mental Health Research Center and the Center for Afro-American and African Studies at the University of Michigan. He also was associate professor of sociology and public health at Yale.

Author of more than 75 academic journal articles, Williams' research has examined the extent to which social and psychological factors, ranging from stress, racism, social support and religious behavior, to psychological resources and health behaviors, are linked to social status, and may explain socioeconomic and racial variations in health.

Reverend Bonita Grubbs, executive director of Christian Community Action, will give the afternoon keynote. Grubbs will highlight strategies to address poverty in New Haven with her talk, "Community Health and Poverty: Promoting Change or Blame."

In addition to the research presented by Yale scientists, there will also be presentations from conference co-sponsors, including the City of New Haven, Empower New Haven, Inc. and the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Topics and speakers will include:

* "Successes of General Assistance Behavioral Health Program," Karen DuBois-Walton

* "Outreach to Mentally Ill Homeless Persons and it's Influences," Michael Rowe

* "Living Beyond Loss: HIV Positive Men and Women Coping with AIDS-Related Bereavement," Kathleen J. Sikkema

* "Childhood Asthma, How Race, Housing Conditions and Medical Care Access Affect Outcomes," Kathleen Belanger

* "The Role of the Whole Community in Improving the Economic Gains of Families," Sherri Killins

* "Working with Poor, Urban, Male Domestic Violence Offenders: Experiences from the EVOLVE program," David Tate & EVOLVE Co-facilitators

* "Being Agents of Change for Urban Youth At Risk: A Comprehensive School-Based Approach," Derrick Gordon

* "Housing and Recovery: Supporting Community Living for Persons with Serious Mental Illness," Bret Kloos

Further information on the conference can be obtained at www.consultationcenter.org or by calling 203-789-7645.