Framing your Strategy
It is important to think about the frame, or boundaries of what you’re trying to change with your strategy, your assumptions and deeper intents that may not be obvious.. Sometimes you know this when you’re starting. For large initiatives it’s wise to state at least some of these at the beginning, although you can adjust as you gain experience and realize that what you originally assumed isn’t actually what you found as you went along.
Part of your learning journey is to keep an eye on what you’re actually experiencing compared to your original understanding and intent. Once you’ve actually been implementing activities you’re able to look at the patterns and see other assumptions or intentions.
Why is it important to set or understand your frame?
One important value to being conscious about your frame is that it directs which fields of knowledge you’ll want to consider in developing activities (and which ones you’re not including). This creates the answer to ‘who plays’ – who do you invite to meetings, ask advice of etc. For example, let’s say you set the frame as relating to individual people who have or are at risk of developing severe and persistent mental illness. That means you’ll limit your activities to those that fields such as psychiatry and psychology consider appropriate for treatment, support or prevention of such illnesses.
On the other hand, if you choose a mental wellness oriented and mentally healthy campus frame, you think much more broadly than a focus on individuals – you include groups of people with common interests (e.g. students in different programs; or all students, faculty and staff within a particular building on campus, their collective culture and social norms plus the physical and digital environments.) With this frame, you’ll choose activities that are directed by the fields of knowledge in community health/ community development, therapeutic landscapes and positive mental health, and will include fields such as anthropology that are concerned with cultures of whole societies.
The Strategy and Legacy Tools in this toolkit are based on assumptions and ways of thinking described under 3 menu items:
Mental Health includes discussions of what is normal, as well as understanding mental wellness, and understanding mental illness, addictions and mental illness.
Outcomes describes the thinking behind using outcomes to be more purposeful about your strategies.
This Framing section includes briefs on five key understandings:
- What is a Mentally Healthy Campus?
- Why are post secondary students a critical group for improving a society’s mental health?
- Why work on inter-organizational relationships? Why is it important to create momentum and the flywheel effect when a desired outcome requires a fundamental culture change?
- Why are student leader-led initiatives a critical part of a comprehensive mental health strategy?
- How did the Mentally Healthy Campus Strategy and set of Legacy Tools come to be developed? The ACMHI story.