To understand why it’s not an equal playing field when it comes to health, we need to look at the bigger picture — at the circumstances in which we are born, grow, live, work and age, at factors often outside of our control.
These are the social determinants of health, and they have the most substantial influence on our health and well-being. They’re our surroundings, and how we travel through them, the food we eat, and the money we have, the quality of our education, and our work. The homes we live in and the family, friends, and communities we have around us.
What are the social determinants of health?
A wide range of factors influences your health. The body you were born with is only one of them. The conditions in which you grew up, learn work, and live also have substantial impacts on your health.
Questions to ask yourself
• Is it safe to walk in your neighborhood?
• Do you have access to nutritious food?
• Is the water you drink safe? Yes, as a matter of fact, Kingsport takes its water very seriously. According to the latest water quality report released by the city of Kingsport, water in the Model City is not only clean and safe to drink, but well below the threshold for harmful contaminants.
• Do you have access to affordable, quality health care?
• Can you receive a quality education?
These and other factors are called the social determinants of health.
• Employment and working conditions.
• Childhood experiences.
• Education and literacy.
• Physical environments.
• Social supports and coping skills.
• Healthy behaviors.
• Access to health services.
They are influenced by the distribution of power, wealth, and other resources across society. They are at the core of health inequity for people of different social, economic classes, genders, and ethnicities. By uncovering social determinants of health and establishing interventions and programs to address them, Healthy Kingsport strives to advance health equity and improve health in the Greater Kingsport area.
To help everyone have the best opportunities for good health, we need to think differently about what makes us healthy, and we need to work across society to take action on the social determinants of health.
Once again, we know this will not be easy. Significant accomplishments never are easy. With hard work and innovation, we will succeed in our hope to transform communities one household at a time.
Healthy Kingsport’s mission is to create a sustainable community culture of healthy living by promoting awareness, influencing policy, and enhancing infrastructure. The organization’s vision is a community where healthy living is the norm.
For more information about Healthy Kingsport, visit www.healthykingsport.org
Aiesha Banks is the executive director of Healthy Kingsport. She can be reached at email@example.com.