Nov. 2, 2018
The National Health Equity Research Webcast (NHERW) is an annual conversation on issues affecting minority populations. The most recent topic, “From Awareness to Action: Leveraging Resiliency in the Context of Toxic Stress and Adverse Childhood Experiences,” aired live on September 28th.
NCIPH Training Associate Ki’Yonna Jones, MHA/MBA, shares some of her takeaways from this year’s event, which included a panel of national leaders and more than 800 participants. You can view the full recording of the webinar and speaker presentations online.
Resilience is a baseline, not a benchmark.
Efforts to address racial equity often extend from the idea that black and brown communities are inherently broken and need to be fixed – that building resilience in these communities will help them succeed. This perspective misses the fact that black and brown communities are already equipped with resilience and strength developed over generations of hardship and adversity.
Solutions based on this mindset often focus on individual empowerment and changed behavior versus acknowledging and addressing structural or cultural systems of oppression. Privileged communities and allies can benefit from greater understanding that this resiliency exists – and that solutions should be decided with the input of the affected community or population rather than decided for them.
NHERW panelist Kanwarpal Dhaliwal, MPH, shared her experiences as co-founder and associate director of RYSE, an organization that provides a safe place for youth in Richmond, CA. By acknowledging the voices and experiences of young people, encouraging them to be themselves and providing tools and support, the project engages the youth of Richmond in solving civic issues.
Health Equity needs to be more than a topic of discussion.
In his presentation, Leroy E. Reese, PhD, shared one of the first known publications related to the health of the black community, “The Health and Physique of the Negro American,” published in 1906. Since that time, discussion of health equity has continued, particularly as it relates to people of color, but it often feels like we are still having the same conversation.
When thinking of “public health,” most Americans think of associated medical issues that affect a population locally or publicly. Most recently, looking at the impact of larger systems on health equity and health outcomes is gaining traction in and outside of the public health sector. More people recognize the significant role social determinants of health play in communities’ health.
One way to increase health equity awareness and funding is to demonstrate the economic impact. Dr. Reese shared key findings from “The Business Case for Racial Equity” predicting a potential economic gain of $135 billion if racial disparities are eliminated, including $93 billion in excess medical cost and $42 billion in untapped productivity. The most important work will be done when research and conversation are put into action.
Toxic stress is continuously present in the lives of immigrant children and families.
In 2016, there were at least 18 million children with at least one immigrant parent living in the United States. The toxic stress and health impacts felt by these families evolve as they move through the migration journey. Panelist Krista Perreira, PhD, from the UNC Department of Social Medicine, shared her research on the pre-migration, migration and post-migration stages. The stress these families and children feel is a continuum — the sources or levels of stress may change throughout the stages of migration, but it seldom goes away.
Constant threats and stress lead many Hispanic and Latino adults to avoid public activities like taking public transportation, going to the doctor or getting an ID or driver’s license. This avoidance behavior, along with government policies, makes immigrant families susceptible to poor health due to reduced physical activity and lack of healthcare access, among other factors.
Dr. Perreira noted that public health can play a role in advocating for changes in current policies and practices that harm children and reduce access to care and developing community-based interventions to build resilient communities and welcoming cities.