TN Vitality Toolkit
A Framework for Community Well-Being
"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."
-World Health Organization
Prevention always beats treatment, improving health outcomes and lowering costs for everyone. For a community to get healthy and stay healthy, groups from across the community – including schools, businesses, healthcare providers, and community members – must partner closely to make decisions and act. When these groups come together to address the conditions where people are born, grow, live, work and age – also known as the Social Drivers of Health – they have the chance to prevent health issues before they start and improve health and prosperity for everyone.
For many years in Tennessee, County Health Councils have addressed the Social Drivers of Health by using the County Health Assessment (CHA) process, which gathers data about community health, and the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), which turns that data into action.
The Tennessee Vitality Toolkit is a framework to help Tennessee County Health Councils strengthen community well-being as they transition from their CHA/CHIP process to collective impact and action.
The Toolkit lays out a menu of resources across three key categories of community health:
- Caring and Connected Communities: Caring and connected communities are essential for community vitality and health because they provide a support system that fosters physical and emotional well-being, encourages residents to engage civically, and enhances community resilience.
- Basic Needs and Built Environment: Basic needs and a well-designed built environment are crucial for community vitality as they ensure access to necessities like nutrition security, economic opportunity, and healthcare, which directly impact the overall well-being and quality of life of residents.
- Strong Starts for Children: Healthy child development lays the foundation for lifelong physical, mental, and social well-being, fostering a generation of individuals who can contribute positively to the community. Ensuring that all children and their families have the resources and support to grow in safe, stable, and nurturing environments is a key contributor to community vitality.
Each category of the toolkit includes accompanying priority areas that a health council might choose to focus on in their CHIP.
The Vitality Toolkit is intended to be a living resource. That means that new priority areas will be introduced over time and updates to partners, programs, and best practices will be updated to keep up with the ever-evolving opportunities to protect, promote, and improve health and prosperity in Tennessee.
For questions about the Tennessee Vitality Toolkit, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tennessee Vitality Toolkit supports prevention-focused, evidence-based, and community-oriented strategies to improve community health.
What is the Purpose of the Toolkit?
The purpose of the toolkit is to provide County Health Councils with a menu of evidence-based action steps to support work on their chosen needs and shared goals. These resources promote a strong foundation for community well-being through creating a shared understanding of difficult issues, providing ideas for action, spotlighting community examples, and focusing work on the Social Drivers of Health. Through this toolkit, a Health Council will be able to get a sense of what partners, programs, or projects will have the biggest impact in addressing their locally identified priorities.
Who is the Toolkit for?
The intended audience for the Vitality Toolkit is County Health Councils as they work through their community health improvement process. However, the Toolkit can be utilized by any community group or organization who would like to act on issues that impact health in their community.
The Vitality Toolkit was guided by a set of key guiding principles, including:
- Utilizing a Trauma and Equity Informed Approach – Each component of the Toolkit is informed by its relationship to potential structural inequities, such as fair access to resources. Each part of the Toolkit has been built with an understanding of how individual and collective traumatic experiences, such as violence or natural disasters, impacts mental and physical health.
- Promoting Collaboration – The difficult health issues facing Tennesseans today cannot be fixed by one health department, healthcare provider, or government agency on its own. Actions found in the toolkit are meant for collaborative partners working together towards change.
- Trusting Local Knowledge – The Toolkit is not a list of demands or required tasks. It is a menu of ideas meant to be adapted based on the needs and opportunities identified by Health Councils through engagement with their community.
- Addressing the Social Drivers of Health - Social drivers, also known as social determinants of health, are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. They include factors like education, socioeconomic status, employment, access to health care, behaviors, and physical, social, and built environments.
The Vitality Toolkit was developed as the next version of the Tennessee Vital Signs, a former dashboard of data meant to measure the pulse of Tennessee’s population health. Evaluation of the effectiveness and usability of the Vital Signs led to a revamp of the site, with the goal of making the resource more useful for communities and more focused on the upstream Social Drivers of Health.
The Toolkit was informed in part by the State of Health in Tennessee Report, where you can find over 100 metrics related to health status of Tennesseans across the four areas of the State Health Plan Framework: A Healthy Start, A Healthy Life, a Healthy Environment, and a Healthy System of Care.
While developing the Toolkit we looked at many different evidence-based resources. Literature reviews were conducted for each priority area, as well as partner interviews to formulate real-life case studies. This work was inspired by national best practices and recommendations from several key frameworks, such as:
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2030
- Public Health 3.0
- FSG’s The Water of Systems Change
- Prevention Institute’s THRIVE framework
- Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative’s Framework for Reducing Health Inequities
- Public Health Reaching Across Sectors (PHRASES)
- Federal Plan for Equitable Long-Term Recovery and Resilience
- Targeted Universalism
- Prevention Institute’s Spectrum of Prevention
To invite feedback on the new Vitality Toolkit framework and understand how these issues are already being addressed in Tennessee, we had over sixty hours of interviews with subject matter experts. We also held four community advisory focus groups made up of County Health Council members and public health staff from counties across the state to talk about priority areas chosen in the 2022 County Health Assessment process.