OneCity Health had the honor of hosting Geraldine Esdaille, a Winston Churchill UK Fellow, earlier this month as part of her visit to the United States to learn about developing, building and sustaining community mental health services.
“I’ve lived with my own substance abuse, domestic violence and behavioral health issues,” said Geraldine. “I’ve been through the system and dealt with inequalities and other barriers. I came out determined to be an agent of change.”
She started by running workshops for women faced with multiple disadvantages and worked with a number of black women’s organizations across Greater Manchester, United Kingdom. However, she saw the inequalities in the system, and wanted to do more. To get an objective view of the system and learn how she could improve outcomes for the communities she cares about, Geraldine applied for the Fellowship.
Churchill Fellowship recipients spend up to two months overseas, researching innovative practices on the topic of their choice. It is not an academic study. Instead, it’s a practical exploration of how things work in other countries, so recipients can bring global insights back to the United Kingdom to influence local change. Geraldine received the Fellowship in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation in the category of Community-Based Approaches.
Because Geraldine is focused on identifying both state-funded and community-led interventions for women, particularly black women, who are living with mental illness or managing substance abuse and domestic violence issues, she wanted to be sure to spend time in New York City learning about initiatives like ThriveNYC and other organizations improving mental health for the community. As this is a key area for OneCity Health, the New York State Department of Health made the connection for Geraldine.
New York City was her first stop before heading off to Chicago, Nashville, New Orleans and other cities. She was quickly able to identify insights to bring home. Most importantly, she said, she experienced and observed aspects of the system she couldn’t understand by simply reading about them.
“It was really interesting to see the way community-based organizations are being integrated into the system,” noted Geraldine, “to view how they value and really try to understand cultural differences and structural deficiencies as a part of their operations was also really enlightening. The transformation of mental health and wellbeing services in Greater Manchester is well underway, I’m excited to be a part of it and to help promote changes that are beneficial and culturally appropriate for local communities.”
Geraldine was particularly impressed with both the model and staff energy she saw on her visit to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. She was also encouraged to see black women holding senior positions in major healthcare settings, which is something she wants to promote at home.
From OneCity Health’s perspective, Geraldine’s visit was an opportunity to make a connection with an expert from overseas who brings an outside perspective to our role implementing the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program.
“It was a personal honor for me to serve as a guide on Geraldine’s path of gleaning best practices,” said Marjorie Momplaisir-Ellis, Senior Director, Engagement & Collaborations, OneCity Health. “It was refreshing to look at our work through a new pair of eyes and celebrate our collective success. It was also a great opportunity both for us to reflect on how far the health system has come in better integrating social services, but also see the work we still need to do in order to form a truly integrated delivery system.”
We look forward to keeping an open dialogue with Geraldine and continuing to learn from each other’s success.
“I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to OneCity Health and NYC Health + Hospitals, Thrive NYC, the community organizations that facilitated my learning, and the City of New York.”