Public health plays a vital role in populations across the globe. This field is dedicated to improving the health – and protecting the well-being – of populations, communities, organizations, and individuals. When threats are made to the greater good, or when new research arises in the field, it is up to public health professionals to step in. They may develop vaccinations, promote major health campaigns, increase access to healthcare, or take strides to improve others’ living and work environments. There are many contemporary initiatives affecting the nation’s public health today, and therefore many ways one can get involved.
If you are considering a future in public health, read on. Below are five public health initiatives affecting our nation in 2022, and details on how you can influence positive change today.
1. Address the Public Health Effects of Climate Change
This year, the American Public Health Association (APHA) listed the effects of climate change as one of the organization’s top advocacy priorities.
As climate changes persist, disease and death rates will also propel. Consequently, America must act immediately to prepare public health systems and protect populations — especially vulnerable communities.
In a Proclamation on National Public Health Week, President Biden also declared, “We must make transformational investments in our climate resilience and continue to address dangerous environmental injustices that threaten public health and have hit communities of color the hardest.”
2. Expand Racial Equity
In November 2020, the American Medical Association identified racism as a threat to public health. The same year, a fact sheet on health disparities by race and ethnicity verified race to be a disproportionate factor in health coverage, conditions, mental health care, and causes of death. In April 2021, the director of the CDC called racism a “serious public health threat,” and by August 2021, racism was declared a public health crisis across 37 states.
In 2022, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Blacks, and Latinos have been twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as whites.
In his Proclamation during National Public Health Week, President Biden stated, “We must take commonsense steps to address the public health epidemic of gun violence, which disproportionately impacts Black Americans.”
Socioeconomic factors like food insecurity and housing instability are also at the forefront of racial health inequities. In the 2022 outline of the American Public Health Association’s advocacy plans, the organization emphasized eliminating police violence and expanding voting access. The APHA’s agenda also indicated, “To achieve health equity…we must address racism as a driving force of the social determinants of health (e.g., housing, education, and employment) and a root cause of disparate outcomes for communities of color….”
3. Makeover Mental Health Opportunities
In his preliminary State of the Union Address, Biden announced his proposals to:
- Develop access to mental health support in schools, colleges, and universities
- Improve veterans’ access to same-day mental health care
- Integrate mental health and substance use treatment into primary care settings
- Invest in research on the mental health harms of social media, and
- Through the American Rescue Plan, launch a 988 mental health crisis hotline to support local crisis calls, and establish mobile response teams, among other strategic mental health measures
4. Open Doors to Distinguished Patient Care
In the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) advocacy agenda, “protecting patients’ access to care and coverage” was significant. The Association promoted veterans receiving comprehensive community care and advocated “metropolitan anchor hospitals” providing critical health care and social services to marginalized groups.
The AHA’s memo also mentioned making certain aspects of telehealth permanent — including appropriate outpatient care, expanding practitioners who can provide telehealth services, and rural health clinics serving as remote sites.
Similarly, in a statement detailing a unity agenda from the White House, President Biden outlined developing more access to virtual mental health care options.
“It’s imperative that we promote better pathways to care and make it as easy as possible for all Americans with behavioral health needs … to access the resources that will improve their well-being,” the briefing room released.
5. Promote Health Care Professionals
The American Hospital Association’s 2022 Advocacy Agenda detailed their support for the health care workforce through apprenticeship programs and organizations that award health care scholarships.
In his State of the Union Address, President Biden also endorsed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act — an awareness campaign to address mental health stigmatization and backed help-seeking and self-care within the profession.
In addition, the American Public Health Association also affirmed its approval for a loan repayment and forgiveness program for public health professionals who dedicate two years of practice in a local, state, or tribal health department.
Motivation to Get Inspired and Make a Genuine Impact
With so many pending public health problems to solve, there is opportunity for others to step up. If you’re curious, data-driven, and career-oriented, now is an optimal time to consider an occupation in public health.
Most careers in public health require a postsecondary degree. Advanced public health professionals, like epidemiologists and biostatisticians, hold a master’s degree in Public Health. Meanwhile, community health educators, health promotion specialists, and advocates can hold a bachelor’s in Public Health.
Due to flexible public health degree programs available, even working students can continue their career goals and study at their convenience. Whether earning a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in Public Health, there are countless career options where one can make an impact.
The public health profession is waiting for leaders like you.
Make a difference doing what you love. Make a difference addressing the public health initiatives that are affecting your community.
Are you interested in earning a public health degree? Click here to learn more about caring for the well-being of communities with a career in public health.