**Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) 16.2S. All rights reserved.**
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic and activism against structural racism heightened awareness of racial-ethnic disparities and disproportionate burden among the underserved. The opioid crisis further compounds these phenomena, increasing vulnerability for substance use disorders (SUD). Community based participatory research can facilitate multi-disciplinary collaboration, yet literature on these approaches to prevent and reduce SUD and associated stigma remains limited.
Objective: Discrimination, stigma, and multiple crises with healthcare and systemic barriers increasingly marginalize the underserved, specifically around SUD. The Detroit Area Mental Health Leadership Team (DAMHLT, since 2015), aims to optimize SUD prevention, enhance resiliency and advocacy to advance knowledge on SUD research and influence community-level research and practice.
Lessons Learned: DAMHLT’s approach on bi-directionality, community level access to real-time epidemiological data, advocacy (i.e., institutional responsiveness) and dissemination may be translational to other partnerships.
Conclusion: As we move through an ever-changing pandemic, DAMHLT’s lessons learned can inform partnership dynamics and public health strategies such as hesitancy on public health response.