This column appears in the Nevada Appeal’s Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Carson City Health and Human Services is proud to be our community’s local public health agency. Numerous agencies and nonprofits, as well as schools, hospitals, and other groups, all play a role in keeping our community healthy. We as individuals also have a role to play in the greater health of our community. This week, April 2-8, is National Public Health Week. So take a moment to think about the important role that public health plays in your daily life as well as what is needed to bring about change and improve our community’s future health. Below are daily themes that are the focus of this years’ National Public Health Week. Learn more about the information provided below by going to http://www.nphw.org/nphw-2018.
Advocate for and promote well-being: Recent data show that only about 10 percent of the millions who need addiction treatment actually get it. Nearly 7 percent of U.S. adults have had at least one major episode of depression in the last year and about 18 percent experience an anxiety disorder. The U.S. suicide rate increased 24 percent between 1999 and 2014, going up for both men and women of almost all ages. Learn about ways you can speak up for improved access to mental and behavioral health services. Use education and training to eliminate the social stigma of mental health diagnoses and encourage people experiencing mental illness to seek treatment.
Learn about ways to prevent disease transmission: Flu vaccine effectiveness can be different each year, but getting this vaccine can reduce your chance of getting sick by up to 60 percent. Besides the flu shot, there are several other vaccines that are recommended for each age group and sometimes you need a booster shot. Remember, immunizations are not just about you — it is also about protecting those around us who are at risk for these diseases, but may not be able to get a vaccine. These groups may include the very young, very old, and people with weakened immune systems. To see what vaccines are recommended for you for your age, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html
Other ways to prevent disease transmission including washing your hands properly and knowing your HIV status. When you are sick, stay home from work or school to care for yourself and prevent spreading your illness to others.
Help to protect and maintain a healthy planet: In the U.S., air pollution contributes to thousands of premature births and costs billions of dollars. In 2007, asthma cost the U.S. $56 billion in medical care, lost productivity, and premature death. It is important for each of us to reduce our impact on the earth and protect our natural resources. You could get involved in supporting environmental health efforts that monitor our communities for risks and develop health-promoting interventions. You can also call for transportation planning that promotes walking, biking and public transit — it not only protects our air quality, but helps us all stay physically active.
Learn about the effects of injury and violence on health: U.S. motor vehicles deaths topped 37,000 in 2016, a more than 5 percent increase over 2015. Especially concerning is the rate of unbelted deaths, which went up 4.6 percent during this same time period. Pedestrian deaths spiked 9 percent in 2016 — the highest number since 1990. For older Americans, falls are the top cause of injury and injury-related death, with one older adult falling every second. You may choose to advocate for increases in funding to programs that reduce and prevent community violence. Furthermore, you may choose to advocate for occupational health and safety standards that keep workers safe on the job. Many injuries are preventable with the appropriate education, policy and safety measures.
Advocate for everyone’s right to a healthy life: About 37 million workers have no access to paid sick leave, despite research showing it can produce significant health benefits without negatively impacting business. About 28 million people in the U.S. lack health insurance. The places where we live, learn, work, worship and play should promote our health, not threaten it. Creating the healthiest nation requires a focus on achieving health equity for all.
There are lots of ways that public health touches your life; from the water you drink and the air you breathe to the safety features in your car. This week, think about public health when you go for a walk, choose a healthy meal, or decide to quit smoking. Also, stay up to date on everything going on at Carson City Health and Human Services by visiting www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or by “liking” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CCHHS.
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