What is a ‘Culture of Health’?
In recent years, we have heard the term “Culture of Health” used frequently. We may hear it used in response to well-known public health crises such as increased rates of obesity and related diseases (ie. hypertension, diabetes etc…). We may even hear this term used in reaction to individuals lacking health insurance. In reality, tackling these issues is only a minor component of creating a “culture of health”. When we talk about creating a “culture of health”, it is much bigger than any group of individuals or medical conditions. In fact, it is a positive approach to curtailing their prevalence. A “culture of health” places well-being at the center of every aspect of our lives and community. It is a movement.
In response to the most pervasive challenges of our time, improving the health and wellbeing of EVERYONE, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation designed a framework which illustrates what it means to truly create a Culture of Health. This involves our entire community investing in one or more of these essential components:
- A community identifying Shared Values: seeing health as a collective concern and valuing well-being. This is about having a public discourse that makes prevention a priority and no longer sees “health” as simply treating illnesses. It involves civic engagement from all members of the community and individuals becoming socially connected with others.
- Fostering Cross-Section Collaboration: This involves high quality partnerships with many organizations which have a common goal of positive health outcomes. Furthermore, it involves a community to financially invest in these common goals and supports it with public policy.
- Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities: This involves building an environment which supports the well-being of all members of the community. For example, safe housing, food security, youth safety, early childhood education and building communities that encourage physical activity.
- Strengthening Integration of Health Services and Systems: this involves an individual’s ability to access primary care, health insurance, mental health and dental health. It also encompasses a health care provider’s ability to communicate this information electronically with multiple partners. This calls for enhancing the role of nurse practitioners and social services to improve health outcomes and lower costs.
Like countless communities across the United States, the Lebanon Community has its share of health challenges. However, we also have the infrastructure in place and we are working towards implementing the 4 action areas.
The ultimate outcomes are to have a community that is able to improve personal well-being, manage chronic conditions and reduce health care spending. The concept of cultivating a Culture of Health embraces the idea that “we are all in this together” and harnesses a collective effort to strive for a community that is physically, socially and mentally well.