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Talking Health

Staff Perspective

How can we share information that inspires people to take action for their health?

Many people lack basic access to services, which includes information about health and conditions that impact health in their community. Many times even when people have access to information it is not always presented as clearly as possible. This ultimately produces the same result: people lacking the resources to take action for their health and neighborhood.

Resources have to be engaging, easy to understand, and compelling. We must communicate in “plain language” so everyone can understand. Health literacy is defined as the capacity someone has to understand basic health information so they can make the best health decisions. According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 12% of English-speaking adults have proficient health literacy skills in the U.S.. Limited health literacy disproportionately affects people who are low income and in communities of color.

At Get Healthy San Mateo County, we use policy change to build healthy, equitable communities to prevent diseases, improve communities, and promote health and well-being. This means communicating about city and regional planning processes is a key strategy to advancing health – and making sure residents understand their role in community planning. Explaining the health connection between the places where we spend our time and our health is equally important. Communicating about placed-based primary prevention in a simple manner helps tie in health to everything that we do.  

Our new website redesign process took this to heart. For the last few months we’ve been testing different ways to visually represent our data, presenting health equity and primary prevention within the context of our strategic planning process, and connecting users to more information to dive deeper into the relationship between health and where we live, learn, work and play.

We hope that presenting high level information in a visually compelling way inspires you to learn more and do something to improve the health of us all.

Our tag lines Building Healthy, Equitable Communities and Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice were carefully crafted and hold all that we do. They explain the bigger picture beyond individual decisions and behaviors in health and communicate the responsibility of our collaborative to advance the health of us all through healthy policy and planning processes.

Our monthly newsletters and social media accounts are another attempt to share information in digestible bites. These best practices are now featured in our Success Stories block on the new website for you to peruse. We are also working on a video project that will show the health connection between healthy housing, neighborhoods, schools and the economy in greater detail. Look for an official announcement coming in the next few months.

Communication truly is a connector. It binds us in shared ideals and creates a space for collective action. I hope our communications at Get Healthy SMC are one small tool you can use to aid in collaboration, and help build healthy, equitable communities for all in San Mateo County.