For many of us, the result of the presidential election was surprising and left us wondering what it meant for our country. Part of the uncertainty came from the statements and sentiments of us vs. them embedded in the discourse leading up to and following the election. Gender, race, national origin, sexual and gender orientation, education, geographic location, social and income divisions showed up and affected how individuals thought about their choice for president. At the moment, it is hard to find messages of reconciliation and commitment to move forward as an entire nation that is authentic and meaningful.
All of the ways in which we find ourselves divided can impact the way in which we think about the health, including mental health, of the whole population. Since our inception at CM, we have always supported a public health approach to health. We believe that health and well-being for communities can be achieved if we promote positive health, prevent problems early, treat health conditions effectively as and when needed, and support individuals to reclaim a fulfilling life in the presence of a health condition or challenge. In our public health approach, we offer a framework that includes assessment, intervention (promotion, prevention, treatment, and reclaiming) and ensuring health (access, quality and well-being). The framework is built on a foundation of values in which we encourage local stakeholder groups to identify and define for themselves taking a systemic approach.
So what do the election outcomes and a public health approach have in common? Equality and Equity. In a public health approach, taking a population lens to health and well-being requires systems and structures that increase access and opportunity to achieve optimal health for all. In our democracy, equality has been cited as a core value of the formation and evolution of our country since the beginning. Equality holds that all people must be treated fairly and with dignity, and be able to gain access to opportunities for education, economic success, political involvement, and a fulfilling life. It is time for us to step back and think about whether we still continue, as human beings and US Citizens, to commit to equality as a core value. And if the answer is yes, what does that look like? What are we prepared to do in service of our commitment to equality?
Equity in a public health approach means that all people are treated fairly and with dignity and can access support that is focused on what they need to achieve health and well-being in environments where they live, learn, work and play. Equity in our diverse mosaic of a country means that we have to be vigilant to support and ensure that all people (and we do mean all) find what they need, in places where they live, to flourish individually, and contribute their gifts to their communities.
Equality and Equity are defining values in our work at CM. These values help guide who we want to be in our work, and the important work that we choose to do every day. Outside of our professional identities, we persevere to and take steps to promote equality and equity in our everyday personal interactions. To connect, engage, and show respect to those who may be different from us; to speak up against discrimination when needed instead of condoning it or standing by; to be grateful and show grace. We are striving for this and encourage you to do the same however you can, and wherever you can.
“When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others.” Dalai Lama
Another helpful resource: When to Take a Stand and When to let it Go: https://www.ted.com/talks/ash_beckham_when_to_take_a_stand_and_when_to_let_it_go
For more information on how to ensure equality and equity is a hallmark within your systems, structures, programs, and services, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.