Effecting social change across contexts: Needs and mechanisms—An introduction to the special section.

The articles in this Special Section provide some grounds for optimism. Although their specific topics, approaches, and mechanisms for action vary, they reflect efforts designed to inform change initiatives or foster health and wellness utilizing data-driven strategies and conceptual models. These articles shed light on salient issues and point to strategies for building capacity to take action. Their recommendations are targeted and well founded. It is clear that a comprehensive approach to resource development, program implementation, and policy change—informed by applied research and evaluation—is necessary. Indeed, today’s challenges require the engagement of diverse stakeholders, from community members to system leaders and policymakers, and lead researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to grapple with a range of related questions: How can we effect changes in our systems to maximize our reach and impact, particularly for groups that have been traditionally disadvantaged and underserved? How can we foster more responsive community systems, engage in innovative prevention strategies, and improve our programs? How do we address social determinants of health—from poverty or economic stability to race-related challenges, from access to safe and stable housing, health care, or adequate food to educational opportunities, transportation, and park access—to promote well-being? How can we create contexts for connectedness and support in individuals’, children’s, and families’ natural settings, whether their neighborhoods, their faith communities, or their schools? How can we shape practice and policy to support behavioral health and well-being and social justice? (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)