Welcome to This Week in Equity Engagement on Twitter (TWEET) for the week of September 28, 2015. Our weekly potpourri of social justice topics includes a number of interesting resources this week. Check it out:
Illinois Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez introduced the Exchange Inclusion for a Healthy America Act 2015, which would allow undocumented immigrants to purchase coverage through federal exchanges.
Of the many factors that influence our health, some of the most difficult to address are the social determinants that are deeply ingrained in our society. In particular, racism and violence have a tremendous impact on health and wellbeing, and communities of color are disproportionately impacted. Fortunately, a lot of work is being done to make the connection between racism, violence, and public health. Earlier today, the American Public Health Association (APHA) hosted No Safety, No Health: A Conversation About Race, Place and Preventing Violence, the second webinar of their four-part series, The Impact of Racism on the Health and Well-Being of the Nation.
Today’s web forum included an engaging discussion featuring APHA Past President Linda Degutis, former director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Howard Pinderhughes of UC San Francisco, Marc Philpart of Policy Link, and Benita Tsao of Prevention Institute. The discussion touched on a wide range of topics including the health impacts of violence and racism, trauma-informed interventions, improving the built environment, shaping positive narratives, and how public health can play a pivotal role in engaging communities for violence prevention.
Here are some of the highlights:
Degutis focused on some of the health impacts of violence.
"More people in the US die as a result of violence than car accidents." -@Degutislc, Defense Health Horizons. #APHAwebinar
Earlier this week, the UCLA Center for Culture, Trauma, and Mental Health Disparities released two studies showing that low-income African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately impacted by mental health issues and chronic conditions. The studies examine five environmental factors that can be used to predict adult depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder:
Experiences of discrimination due to racial, ethnic, gender, or sexual orientation
A history of sexual abuse
A history of violence in the family or from an intimate partner
A history of violence in an individuals’ community
A chronic fear of being killed or seriously injured
The researchers found that repeated exposure to these factors can have a more severe impact as they accrue over a lifetime.
“The costs to society of these life experiences are substantial,” said Hector Myers, a former UCLA psychology professor and first author of the Psychological Trauma study. (Myers is now a professor at Vanderbilt University.) “We know there is a poorer overall quality of life, a loss of productivity, greater social dependency, disability, health and mental health care costs, and early mortality as a result of repeated experiences of stress and trauma.”
They also expressed confidence that the findings of the study could be used to better address the health needs of communities that experience societal trauma at higher rates. Further, they noted that with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there is increased access to mental health treatment and care.
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Violence and community trauma can have a significant impact on health and wellbeing in a neighborhood. In a recent brief we released with the California School-Based Health Alliance, Making the Health Home Model Work for Boys and Men of Color, we highlighted how violence and trauma particularly impacts boys and men of color in California:
“Boys and young men of color in California experience physical and psychological trauma at rates much higher than Whites. Homicide rates for ages 10 to 24 are 79.6 per 100,000 for African American young men compared to only 2.7 per 100,000 for White young men. Exposure to such violence can have a tremendous impact on the mental health of surviving members of the community. Young people can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, which can lead to increases in impulsive and aggressive behavior, risky sexual behavior, self-harm, and abuse of drugs or alcohol.”