How you, the individual, can create a healthier community

Public and community health is an essential field of work – find out what it takes to help people live their healthiest lives.

female exercising in the park

As time goes on (and science advances), we discover more and more about health and the human body. We discover more about how health can be influenced by the people around us, whether that’s our family, friends, or the wider community. Public and community health is an essential field of work, and it’s important for people to give their time, energy and focus to it – whether that’s in a small way, or as a lifelong career focus.

Public health issues of today

Unfortunately, many modern health conditions and diseases causing public health problems can be traced back to how individuals choose to live their lives.

First, obesity and the sometimes related Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer not only impact the individuals who have the conditions, but also impact the communities in which these individuals live through time lost from work, and lost wages that cannot be spent in the community.

Second, substance abuse – from tobacco use to illicit drug use – can cause people both acute and chronic health problems that impact individuals, their families, and the communities in which they live.

Finally, communicable illnesses like influenza, chickenpox, food-borne illness and sexually-transmitted diseases impact communities which often struggle to keep disease from spreading.

All of these conditions are considered public and community health issues.

Help by giving

Your financial and material support is an essential component to creating a healthier community. Charitable organisations are often on the forefront of efforts to create healthier communities. However, these nonprofits are continually on the search for both money and supplies to support health services and campaigns they fund or sponsor.

You can help these organisations by contributing financially or by donating anything from paper towels to used computers. Always check with the non-profit you want to support to see whether they prefer financial or material support – and if material support, what type.

Help by participating

Your participation in public health campaigns and programs can make a difference in both your life and the lives of others. One of the best ways you can help create healthier communities is to create a healthier you. Communities are made up of individuals, and as more individuals become healthier, so does the community at large.

Managing your weight, eating healthier, getting more exercise, quitting smoking, and encouraging others to do the same are a few things you can do to improve community health. With the prevalence of social media, we are all more influential than ever. Our efforts towards healthier lifestyles are more likely to catch on if we lead by example, and spread the message.

Often, community organisations and even employers provide programs to help individuals get healthier, and promote overall community health. By participating on a team in a health challenge, whether to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking or by being a coach or mentor for a team, you are doing your part as a community member to promote public health.

Help by volunteering, or pursuing a health-related career

One way to work in the public health arena is to volunteer. You could work at a blood drive, or deliver healthy meals to seniors, or make flyers for a cancer walk. When you donate your time by volunteering you help make a healthy community.

Another way you can make a difference is by embarking on a career that impacts public and community health issues. Open Universities Australia can be instrumental to those career ambitions, whether through a Bachelor of Community Health degree or a Bachelor of Health Science degree.

Postgraduate level students can pursue a Master of Public Health, or such qualifications as a Graduate Certificate in Public Health, or a Graduate Diploma in Public Health.

No matter what path you choose, if you have the passion for helping to create healthy communities, there are many ways you can work to improve public health in your community. How do you want to make an impact?

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