SALEM, Ore. - Oregon's next State Health Improvement Plan will take on social factors that can affect people’s health, including exposure to racism, childhood trauma, living-wage jobs, food security and access to health care, the Oregon Health Authority said Friday.
The PartnerSHIP, a steering committee responsible for developing the 2020-2024 SHIP, determined the priorities during a meeting on Feb. 12. They include:
- Institutional bias: This is defined as the systematic distribution of resources, power and opportunity in society to the benefit of people who are white and the exclusion of people of color, people with disabilities, people with low income and people who identify as LGBTQ+. This can have a significant effect on health.
- Adversity, trauma and toxic stress: These experiences can include abuse and neglect, living in poverty, incarceration, family separation, and exposure to racism and discrimination. These events have a lifelong effect on health and are correlated with things like substance use, suicide and even some cancers.
- Economic drivers of health, such as housing, living wage, food insecurity and transportation: Poverty is a strong predictor of poor health. Although Oregon’s economy is growing, many are struggling to get out of poverty despite having a job due to the high cost of living or raising a family. People living in poverty experience higher rates of premature death and increased rates of homelessness, mental distress and food insecurity.
- Access to equitable preventive health care: Despite an increasing number of people with health insurance, many are challenged to get to a health care provider or see a dentist due to provider shortages, transportation barriers, health care costs, or because they don’t feel comfortable with their provider due to language or other cultural difference.
- Behavioral health, including mental health and substance use: Oregon has one of the highest rates of mental illness in the country. Tobacco and substance use are the first and third leading causes of death, respectively, in Oregon. Mental distress can lead to lower quality of life, unemployment and increased rates of suicide. Use of alcohol, opioids, methamphetamine and other substances have a significant impact on many families.
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