During the first full week of April each year, the American Public Health Association brings together communities across the United States to observe National Public Health Week as a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation's health.
Everyone deserves to live a long and healthy life in a safe environment. To make that possible, we need to address the causes of poor health and disease risk among individuals and within our communities. Where we live, learn, work, worship and play affects each of us and can determine our health and life expectancy. In the workplace, let's partner across public and private sectors to make sure decisions are made with the public's health in mind. Within our communities, let's start new conversations with our neighbors and become advocates for positive change. Working together, we can build healthier communities and eventually, the healthiest nation. But we need your help to get there.
Each day this week will focus on a different public health topic that's critical to creating the healthiest nation. This page contains information about each of these health topics, including ways the Sarpy/Cass Health Department is addressing them. Consider following our Facebook and Twitter pages for additional information.
Monday: Mental Health
Tuesday: Maternal and Child Health
Wednesday: Violence Prevention
Thursday: Environmental Health
Saturday: Healthy Housing
Mental health is essential to personal well-being, family and interpersonal relationships, and the ability to contribute to community or society. One in five Americans experiences some form of mental illness, and that doesn't just impact the individual: it has a ripple effect that touches families, communities, and society overall. According to the Sarpy/Cass Health Department's 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment, 34% of Omaha metropolitan residents reported their mental health status as "excellent", and an additional 35.8% reported "very good".
To ensure our communities are the healthiest they can be, the Sarpy/Cass Health Department offers a variety of programs addressing mental health and suicide prevention. QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training is an evidenced-based program taught by a Certified QPR Instructor. People that attend these trainings learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis, respond to someone who may be having suicidal thoughts, and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help. If you are interested in attending a free class, contact the Health Department at [email protected]. Additional information on QPR training can be found at https://qprinstitute.com
MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH
Maternal and child health efforts focus on ensuring the health of mothers and babies throughout the lifespan. In the United States, nearly 25% of pregnant women do not receive sufficient prenatal care, and that percentage is even higher for African American mothers.
The Sarpy/Cass Health Department offers a variety of maternal and child health services to our community. Our goals are to promote healthy families, empower parents through education and support, improve breastfeeding success, and develop community connections.
In the fall of 2019, the Department opened the Sarpy/Cass Baby Cafe in our office in Papillion. This free resource for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers includes support from certified lactation staff and WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselors, opportunities to share experiences and make friends, and refreshments, comfortable seating, and open-forum discussions. The Sarpy/Cass Baby Cafe also offers a fun play area for accompanying toddlers. To learn more about the Sarpy/Cass Baby Cafe, contact Michelle at [email protected] or Katie at [email protected].
Violence is a serious problem in the United States, and affects people in all stages of life. Child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence, suicide, youth violence, and elder abuse can happen in any community. In 2016, more than 19,000 people were victims of homicide and nearly 45,000 people took their own life (CDC, 2019). According to the 2018 County Health Rankings Report, the number of reported violent crime offenses per 100,000 population is 64 in Sarpy County and 95 in Cass County. Violence affects communities by reducing productivity, decreasing property values, and disrupting social services.
Preventing youth violence begins by promoting family environments that support healthy development. The maternal and child health nurses at the Sarpy/Cass Health Department provide early childhood home visitation and teach parenting and family relationship skills. Through the Health Department's Safe Kids Sarpy/Cass program, children are provided with health education to strengthen their skills to prevent youth violence. Health Department staff also provide programs aimed at educating community partners and school personnel about mental health and suicide prevention.
The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the condition of our homes all affect our health. According to the Sarpy/Cass Health Department's 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment, 9.3% of metro area adults have asthma, and 11.3% "often" or "sometimes" had food insecurities (worried about their food running out before they had money for more). Learn more about the environmental conditions that can affect our health by reading the 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment. More information about the Environmental Health services offered by the Sarpy/Cass Health Department can be found here.
The Sarpy/Cass Health Department provides education, training, and resources to our residents to ensure they are prepared for the effects of environmental outbreaks and disaster situations. Visit the Health Department's Preparedness page to learn more about preparing for issues commonly encountered in Nebraska, including flooding, winter storms, and extreme heat. The Department's Safe Kids Sarpy/Cass program provides accident and injury prevention education to a variety of community audiences.
Where people live — not just how they live — impacts their health and life expectancy. Poor indoor air, lead pipes, inadequate ventilation, pest infestations, water leaks, residential crowding and other hazardous conditions put people at higher risk for health problems. Smart local policies that prioritize health can make a difference. Work with non-profit and city partners to create a local healthy housing ordinance to support healthy home environments. Research shows well-maintained sidewalks encourage physical activity, and safe biking networks lead to more cycling and fewer injuries among bicyclists. Rates of preventable deaths — such as deaths from heart disease, diabetes and cancer — typically go down in communities where local public health spending goes up. Other research finds that deaths from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and the flu decline significantly in communities that expand their multi-sector networks in support of population health goals. The affordability and condition of housing and the surrounding environment impacts health. Removing leaded drinking water service lines would save billions of dollars in future health and productivity benefits.
In 2017, 12.3% of the U.S. population were living in poverty. Poverty is defined using the U.S. Census Bureau’s income thresholds, depending on the size of the family. The poverty threshold for a family of four in 2018 was $25,465 annually. Low-income families have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other chronic conditions.