How Will You Celebrate National Rural Health Day?
By Garrison Daly, AmeriCorps VISTA “Healthy Communities”
November 17th is National Rural Health Day and as a rural community it is important to consider all of the factors that go into creating a culture of health. The World Health Organization defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. Thus, when considering this definition in a rural geography there are many factors to consider into what makes us healthy? Physical health, mental health, social health, behavioral health, occupational health, spiritual health, environmental health, financial health, maternal health, child health, and others are the factors that define a healthy community. This means that questions such as
Is your healthcare affordable?
Can you financially provide the essentials for yourself and family?
Do you have someone to talk to?
Are you happy?
Can I easily get to the hospital when in need?
Do you have a healthy work environment?
Are children in the community receiving adequate care and nutrition?
Is the community an active one?
Do you/know someone who turns to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism?
Being a rural community, our citizens, patients, and providers face several barriers to care. Barriers our community faces in accessing treatment include provider shortages (in particular mental health providers), service provider’s knowledge and understanding of other available patient programs, isolation, long travel distances and scarcity of specialty care, under-resourced infrastructure, and a predominantly older population. As a result, members of the community, in particular those of a lower socioeconomic status, suffer physically, mentally, and economically. Health related organizations have identified the most devastating issues here in Carbon County as mental health, health education, and accessibility. Isolation and chronic stress are concerning issues as well.
So how can you create a culture of health in your community? Walk to work/school, talk to your children about nutrition, make a meal together as a family, recycle, support your local economy, set up a savings account, go to church, and enjoy the company of friends and family in a non-alcoholic setting. Let’s set an example to the next generation of all the ways we can be healthier individuals and thus instill health into our proud Montana culture!