Mental Health Among People with Disabilities: Local Health Departments Can Promote Awareness on Dual Diagnosis

By Evelyn Arana, NACCHO Health and Disability Fellow

This story originally ran in NACCHO’s Health People, Health Places blog.

In recognition of May’s Mental Health Month, organizations and people across the US are raising awareness for mental health. NACCHO joins the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America, and other organizations nationwide in recognizing the importance of addressing mental health illness. It is also important to recognize the increased risk of mental health illness among people with disabilities. Local health departments (LHDs) can embrace Mental Health Month and play a fundamental role in efforts to increase awareness of mental health illness among people with disabilities. NACCHO’s Health and Disability team offers LHDs support and guidance in increasing awareness of mental health illness among this population. Continue reading

Member Spotlight: Health Department Director Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown Discusses Her Experiences in Public Health and the Benefits of Being a NACCHO Member

Interview by Taylarr Lopez, Communications Specialist, NACCHO

NACCHO’s Member Spotlight series features interviews with local health department leaders and staff about their careers in public health. This interview features Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown, RN, MPH, Health and Human Services Director of the Crook County Health Department in Prineville, OR. She is a member of NACCHO’s Global Climate Change Workgroup, the 2017 Winter Leadership Meeting Committee, and the Leadership Development Institute Community of Practice. Below she shares her path in public health and highlights a few of the challenges her health department is addressing. Continue reading

Tobacco Cessation for Cancer Survivors: A Resource Guide for Local Health Departments

Local health departments (LHDs) play a vital role in minimizing the impact of cancer in their communities. NACCHO supports LHDs in planning, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based cancer prevention and control strategies to improve population health. With that said, NACCHO has released of Tobacco Cessation for Cancer Survivors: A Resource Guide for Local Health Departments. This guide details the importance of tobacco cessation for cancer survivors and features recommendations on how local health departments can use existing resources to link cessation services to cancer survivors. This resource guide was created through collaboration with American Cancer Society under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cooperative agreement DP1315 National Support to Enhance Implementation of Comprehensive Cancer Control Activities.

Download Tobacco Cessation for Cancer Survivors: A Resource Guide for Local Health Departments from the NACCHO website today.

Improving the Health of Communities by Investing in Tomorrow’s Workforce Today

By Claude-Alix Jacob, MPH, NACCHO President and Chief Public Health Officer for the Cambridge Public Health Department (MA)

The local health department (LHD) workforce is the backbone of the nation’s public health infrastructure. While healthcare issues have historically overshadowed the public health tenets of prevention and population health, LHD leaders and staff are truly on the front lines of keeping U.S. residents healthy and safe. Despite its critical importance, the LHD workforce is facing numerous challenges that the nation must confront to ensure the health and well-being of our communities. Continue reading

National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Building Community, Building Hope

By Margaret Carr, NACCHO Senior Program Assistant

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) encourages local health departments (LHDs) to engage their communities throughout the month of April in promoting child abuse prevention efforts. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the theme this year is Building Community, Building Hope.

Child Abuse and Violence

Child abuse and neglect continues to be a major public health issue in the United States. In 2014, 702,000 victims of child abuse and neglect were reported to child protective services.[i]

Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of violence. Early experiences and environments shape the architecture of children’s developing brains,[ii] which in turn influences the connections their brains make. For example, children who grow up in environments where they do not feel safe, learn to better recognize and respond to threats. As such, this can lead to an increased fight-or-flight response which can override other skills that enable non-violent conflict resolution. Exposure to child abuse and neglect as well as other traumatic stressors termed adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), lead to short- and long-term health and social problems.[iii] Violence is preventable and LHDs can work with their communities to ensure every child has the opportunity to grow up in a safe environment.

Child abuse is just one form of violence children may experience, however, the many forms of violence are related and often share root causes. Addressing the shared risk and protective factors for violence can prevent child abuse and violence across a life span.

The Role of Local Health Departments

LHDs play an essential role in preventing child abuse and creating a safe, healthy community for all of their residents. Interventions that include protective factors, which are those that reduce risk and encourage positive and healthy development, are proven to be successful.[iv] NACCHO’s resource, Local Health Department Efforts to Prevent Child Maltreatment highlights five evidenced-based parenting programs. LHDs can implement interventions such as home visiting and/or other parenting programs, which provide parents with the necessary skills to promote the health and well-being of their children. While these programs are beneficial, prevention efforts must go beyond individuals and families. LHDs can work with community partners (e.g. hospitals, schools, social services, non-profits) to change social norms and increase community connectedness for families. Reducing social isolation can reduce the risk for multiple forms of violence.[v] LHDs can help move the community to take collective responsibility for all children.

We encourage you to share child abuse prevention messages throughout the month of April!

Potential Messages to Share:

Resources:

 

[i] https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childmaltreatment/

[ii] http://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/brain-architecture/

[iii] https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/connecting_the_dots-a.pdf

[iv] https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/guide_2017.pdf

[v] https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/Strategic_Vision.pdf

Live Well Allegheny: Paving the Way to Better Health Outcomes

logo_na2017NACCHO Annual 2017 will take place July 11­–13 in Pittsburgh. In the following blog post, Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker shares how cross-sectoral collaboration has created new opportunities for improving the health of Pittsburgh and surrounding Allegheny County.


By Karen Hacker, MD, MPH, Director, Allegheny County (PA) Health Department

Welcome to Allegheny County and its county seat, the City of Pittsburgh. Allegheny County is comprised of 130 municipalities and has a population of over 1.2 million residents (ACS 2013). Our region today provides an example of a dramatic post-industrial revitalization fueled by the health care and educational sectors. This progress is, in part, the result of a culture of collaboration between private and public sectors focused on improving the health and well-being of the region. Government, community- and faith-based organizations, academia, and foundations have worked together to achieve significant advances that are impacting the health of Allegheny County residents. These include the transformation of the riverfront, the completion of the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC, the Pittsburgh Promise, a $250 million effort to promote academic success, and the implementation of award-winning job training programs. The large and committed foundation community has been deeply involved in supporting these efforts and ensuring that progress continues. As County Executive Rich Fitzgerald often says, “We come together to get things done.” Continue reading

Member Spotlight: Health Department Director Jeff Kuhr Provides His Insights on Changes in Public Health and Shares the Value of NACCHO’s Advocacy Work

Interview by Taylarr Lopez, Communications Specialist, NACCHO

NACCHO’s Member Spotlight series features interviews with local health department leaders and staff about their careers in public health. This interview features Jeff Kuhr, PhD, Director of the Mesa County Health Department in Grand Junction, CO. He has served on many boards and committees, including the current NACCHO Board of Directors and previously on the Accreditation Preparation and Quality Improvement Committee. He has been a member of NACCHO for 12 years. Below, he explains how his career in public health began, shares the highlights of his career, and discusses the challenges facing his department. Continue reading