Even though there are no specific steps for building a healthy community environment; however, concerted communal efforts toward a positive health outlook encompass an effective strategy to foster better and healthier living conditions.
To improve living standards, communities must take things into their own hands to develop effective action plans tailored to their unique circumstances, qualities, and resources.
How does a healthy community environment contribute to better living?
Our health and happiness are impacted by whatever happens in our lives at home and in the workplace. A healthy and positive community environment can
- Promote the health and well-being of its citizens
- Improve the sense of security
- Create meaningful employment opportunities
- Ensure access to necessities
- Encourage the creation of positive recreational spaces
- Develop a sense of belonging and agency within the community for every single one of its residents.
On the flip side, a poor community environment can cause a shortage of social opportunities, which leads to social isolation and a complete disregard for public health and safety. Furthermore, those in low-income neighborhoods are less likely to reap the advantages of community life.
Paying attention to public health can help communities decrease socioeconomic inequalities among their citizens.
If you’re passionate about community health and want to take a proactive approach toward ensuring a healthy community environment, a career in healthcare administration might be your true calling.
Pursuing an advanced degree in healthcare administration can present you with the opportunity to be at the forefront of decision-making that touches entire communities. If you can’t make time for on-campus courses, you can opt for online MHA programs, which allow more flexibility.
That said, keep scrolling to learn six ways collective action can influence a healthier environment on a community level.
Four ways of building a healthier community
Encouraging community involvement
No one can unlock their full potential towards a healthier lifestyle on any level, whether physically, socially, or emotionally, unless they can actively engage in decision-making relevant to their well-being.
Furthermore, empirical evidence suggests that empowered and engaged individuals are more likely to make better health choices. Therefore, community engagement and collaboration are crucial for achieving primary healthcare targets on the community level.
According to the WHO, healthier societies provide every person a chance to contribute to the social, commercial, and intellectual development of their community, rather than those that leave individuals feeling insecure, excluded, and impoverished.
When people in a community can connect in various settings, they are more likely to share and receive information, participate in group efforts to address shared challenges, and ultimately improve their quality of life.
Better urban planning
The health of a community is everyone’s responsibility, and all levels of government, businesses, schools, community organizations, and the volunteer sector should combine their efforts to support and foster a healthier living environment.
While local governments play an essential part in building healthy and thriving communities, they need help from the state and federal governments to succeed.
Compared to regions with a high development ratio, urbanized communities have a high dependence on automobiles due to less access to walking and bicycling, which means driving is how most people commute.
However, it is a significant reason urban sprawled regions have a greater carbon footprint and face ever-increasing air pollution, which is a menace to public health and the environment. Communities can better address current and future risks to public and environmental health via better urban planning and inter-sectoral collaboration and development.
Increasing pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, expanding the availability and access to healthy food, constructing better recreational facilities, and sprucing up the riverside are all ways of better urban planning.
Moreover, inter-sectoral collaboration can influence positive change in the standard of living in the community. Such enhancements can have economic and ecological advantages, and they may encourage residents to live healthier, more active lives by enhancing public safety, strengthening community ties, and bettering air quality.
Opting for resource-based development
Poverty, obesity, and homelessness are just a few problems traditionally addressed by pointing out what’s wrong with local communities. Consequently, a “case by case” approach has emerged, in which “external experts” are brought in to implement solutions.
Individuals and communities benefit from a resource-based approach to community development, emphasizing using existing resources and capabilities rather than creating new ones.
In contrast, a “resource-based” strategy helps communities use their existing resources effectively. Although outside help may be offered, the communities themselves are taking the initiative and setting the agenda.
A healthy balance between green space and blue space
An increase in green urban spaces such as parks and roadside greenery has been associated with countless positive public health benefits, including improved birth rates, lower stress levels, improved lung function and cardiovascular health, and most importantly, a reduction in crime and mortality due to heat waves caused by heat buildup due to industrial activities.
On the other hand, regions along the shore and riverbank, also known as blue spaces, can encourage healthy behavior such as frequent walking and exercising. After all, people are naturally drawn to gather, exercise, and hang out near water bodies due to their visual appeal.
Striking a balance between green and blue space, such as planting trees in low-tree density regions, can enhance health in several different ways, both directly (via the trees’ ability to act as a natural air filter) and indirectly (through the alleviation of the urban heat island effect).
Not to forget, visual improvements on roads, such as an increase in vegetation, can positively influence mental health and encourage healthy behaviors such as exercising, walking, or bicycling.
Building a healthy community environment is only possible with collective community action – where all sectors of the community, including government, commercial, non-profit, and even the citizens, work together to achieve a common goal.
That said, if you are passionate about public health, you can play a vital role in the above-discussed initiatives by pursuing a degree in health administration. After all, only healthy public policies can foster a conducive environment for individuals to lead healthy lifestyles, make healthy decisions, and transform their surroundings for the better.