Rebecca Martin/Special to the Chronicle
When someone mentions “health” what comes to mind?
For most, it’s the physical manifestation of health — how’s your body doing; are your allergies acting up; do you still have that headache; did you sprain your ankle when you tripped, and so on.
But “health” is really an all-encompassing idea, one that engages not just individuals but entire communities. That’s what community members in the “Health and Social Needs” aspiration focus group will discuss during the Citrus 2030 community visioning event.
The focus is a concept called “Health in All Policies” (HiAP).
It is about people being aware of what constitutes a healthy community — including physical and social determinants of health — and ensuring through education and advocacy that decision-makers in all areas adopt a “health in all policies” approach.
The HiAP is a collaborative approach to improving the health of all people by incorporating health considerations into decision-making across all sectors and policy areas.
What does this mean in a practical sense?
By the year 2030, we want Citrus County to look like this:
- We want to be considered a “livable community” — one that’s safe and secure, has affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options and offers supportive community features and services.
- Everyone has access to needed health care and social services of all types.
- All residents have access to education and have opportunities available for healthful, active living in a clean, safe environment.
- Mental/behavioral health and substance abuse issues are addressed, with the focus on eliminating root causes.
- We all are advocates for improvement in all social determinants of health This is important because studies show that our health is, in large part, determined by social and environmental conditions, as well as genetics and individual behavioral decisions.
A healthy, livable community supports economic development that’s consistent with the county’s culture by providing sufficient well-paid jobs so residents can obtain adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, and access to medical care and health insurance so that the number of children living in poverty is dramatically diminished, if not eliminated.
It also provides services for those in need, including protections for the most vulnerable.
Traditionally, peopled looked at health and social services as separate entities, but we understand now that it’s all connected.
Towns and cities, counties, and even entire states have adopted a “health in all policies” approach to policy-making and everyday decision-making.
This Citrus 2030 aspiration group touches all the others in many ways.
As one Michigan county that went all-in on HiAP recently pointed out, “The choices people make are often shaped by the choices people have.”
That means we need to establish a comprehensive approach to bringing health, well-being and equity considerations into policies, programs and services of traditionally non-health related systems, as well as those directly related to health.
Rebecca Martin is a consultant, health advocate, and a member of the Citrus 2030 Steering Committee Health and Social Services Aspiration Focus Group.