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Community Assessment

peace not violence

Community assessment is a key component in creating effective public health actions in health promotion. Engaging community members in conversations about their environments, development, assets, needs, risks and interest provides the core to address health and social disparities. With a community-based participatory approach, the community is provided a space to voice their concerns, identify conditions and find factors that could be undertaken in order to make a social change. The assessment ultimately engages the researcher with community members as co-investigators in the learning process towards the improvement of conditions and provides a stronger stage for the creation of more effective public health actions and social change.

Evidence of Competence in the Community Assessment

Executive Summary

Background and Purpose

Oakland city residents face high rates of violence that expose them to assaults and physically endangering experiences.  Due to the fact that Fruitvale has the highest concentration of Latinos in Oakland, Latino youth have higher rates of exposure to violence.  Violence is described but not limited to homicides, shootings, assaults, and riots.  All these events cause significant trauma in lives of Latino male youth in Fruitvale. This trauma has internal and external manifestations that cause behavior issues leading to stress, depression anxiety, fear, disruptive behavior and school disengagement, among others. The purpose of this community assessment in collaboration with the Spanish Speaking Citizens' Foundation, is to examine the mental health needs of Latino male youth ages 11-18 who have been affected by violence in Fruitvale, Oakland.


Two methods were used in order to collect qualitative data for this assessment: 1) Three focus groups with 20 Latino male youth ages 11-18 who live or go to school in Fruitvale neighborhood and 2) four key informant interviews with professionals who are employed in the city of Oakland and have extensive experience working with Latino male youth. The data gathered informed the development of findings and recommendations to help SSCF improve their mental health services for Latino males age 11-18 who have been affected by violence.


  1. Stigma is a barrier to accessing mental health services.
  2. Youth experience anxiety, fear and hyper vigilance due to the violence they experience in everyday life.
  3. Differences in access to community and medically based mental health services.
  4. Culturally relevant services and professional development in gang culture are needed.
  5. Youth deal with stress caused by violence by talking to people they trust.
  6. Some youth engage in negative (substance use) and positive (sports) recreational activities to deal with stress.
  7. There are other issues in Latino youth's lives that affect their mental health besides violence.


  1. De-stigmatize mental health through outreach services.
  2. Provide more safe spaces for Latino male youth to maintain positive mental health.
  3. Offer mental health services as part of the Latino male youth's routine in school.
  4. Make requirements to receive mental health services more inclusive and accessible.
  5. Advocate for the increase existing funding for mental health services.

If you would like to read more about our community assessment, please click on the document located in the left-hand sidebar.

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