"In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute."

– Thurgood Marshall 

Welcome to day 8

Topic: Health Equity

Imagine if you were ill and could not access or afford quality healthcare. Today, we’ll dig deeper to understand how the color of one’s skin can result in a shorter life expectancy.

Reminder, no matter who you are or where you are on the journey, you will not be perfect. Try to digest the information slowly and go at your own pace. Allow time for reflection and avoid feeling pressured to tackle everything.

I’ve Heard About The Wealth Gap, But What Is The Wealth-Health Gap?

You may have heard about the wealth gap, but have you heard about the wealth-health gap?

Socioeconomic status and institutional racism lead to disparities across living conditions, limit access to quality and affordable health care, and contribute to chronic stress. These factors and others lead to shorter life spans and a higher likelihood of adverse health outcomes for people living in low or very low child well-being areas where the majority are people of color. Many feel racial discrimination is a thing of the past, but people of color continue to experience both subtle and overt forms of discrimination.

 

Image via cdc.gov

The Covid Crisis Exacerbated Health Disparities

Racism in healthcare is both interpersonal & systemic.

McKinsey & Co. 

Symptoms of anxiety and depression have been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic. There continues to be a racial gap in experiencing mental health issues and getting treatment for them. Gail Mattox, MD, a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Morehouse School of Medicine, says “There’s really no health without mental health.”

Health Policies That Perpetuate Racist Ideologies

“In 1968, the American Psychiatric Association took deliberate steps to change the definition of schizophrenia to include aggression where it had previously not… The anger of Black men was portrayed as a byproduct of mental illness, rather than a fight against oppression. New drugs intended to target the angry Black man were advertised to psychiatrists.”  (The Washington Post)

Today, we are both over-diagnosing some mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, and under-diagnosing others, such as depression, mistaking symptoms for criminality that deserve punishment, rather than treatment.

In 2018, 58.2 percent of Black and African American young adults 18-25 and   50.1 percent of adults 26-49 with serious mental illness did NOT receive treatment.  (Mental Health America)

Challenge Menu

Accumulating Advantage: How Is Health Impacted by Race and, Consequently, Class?

This brief interactive tool provides insights about the way racial discrimination impacts individual and public health across different aspects of life. (7-minute interactive exercise)

 

The Urgency of Naming Racism

In partnership with the Just Health Circle, the ARCHI Collaborative and The Two Georgias Initiative facilitated conversations on how the global COVID-19 pandemic sheds light on health, economic, racial, and social inequities. This conversation, featuring Dr. Camara Jones, is from the “Health Equity: The Urgency of Now” webinar series. (27 minutes)

What’s Behind the Surgical Mask? Why Are They So Angry? 

This podcast, hosted by Dr. Carol François and Kourtney Square, takes you into unexplored territory to unlearn what you thought you knew about American history and being Black/African American in the United States. In this episode, Dr. Carol François and her niece Kourtney Square take off the surgical mask to examine systemic racism in healthcare. Medical experimentation and poor healthcare have long plagued the Black/African American community. Learn why this is so detrimental to our future. (27 minutes)

Atlanta Struggles To Fulfill MLK’s Legacy in Health Care 

Fifty years after the civil rights leader was killed, some public health leaders in Atlanta wonder whether the city is failing to live up to King’s call for justice in health care. They point to substantial disparities, particularly in preventive care. “We have world-class health care facilities in Atlanta, but the challenge is that we’re still seeing worse outcomes” for African Americans, says Kathryn Lawler.

Protecting Ourselves and Our Community During COVID-19 

In May 2020, United Way of Greater Atlanta led a Virtual Town Hall discussion about the communities impacted most by the COVID pandemic and the intersections of health and economics. Dr. Elizabeth Ford, CEO and district health director of DeKalb Board of Health, along with United Way’s President and CEO Milton J. Little, Jr. and Chief Community Impact Officer Katrina Mitchell, focused largely on what communities are doing to stem the spread of COVID-19, and how nonprofits, individual donors, and corporations have worked together to respond to Greater Atlanta’s greatest needs. (55 minutes)

Clear data prompts additional investment in Mental Health Services

  • According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), rates of anxiety increased from 8.1% in 2019 to 25.5% in 2020
  • Depression rates increased went from 6.5% in 2019 to 24.3% in 2020.;
  • In the Greater Atlanta region, there are only 60 fully bilingual Spanish counselors for almost 1,000,000 Latinos
  • Only one in three African Americans who need mental health care receive it

For Reflection

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”— Joseph Pearce
What have you been wrong about in the past? Consider your assumptions about health and healthcare.

Can you open your thinking up to see health issues not just as a problem of personal care and behaviors, but also as a problem of access to services, treatment practices among medical practitioners, and policies about the social determinants that affect health?

Take Action

Today in Greater Atlanta nearly 500,000 children live in communities lacking the basic opportunities and resources needed to thrive. Lives born with pure potential are too often offset by the disparities that a zip code or race produces, holding us back for an equitable Greater Atlanta.

United Way of Greater Atlanta
40 Courtland St., N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30303

404-527-7200
unitedwayatlanta.org

Ⓒ 2022 United Way of Greater Atlanta

Thank You

The following organizations have provided funds to support the United Way Racial Equity and Healing Fund

Anthem
Assurant
Betty and Davis Fitzgerald Foundation
Gas South

Genuine Parts Company
Global Payments Inc
Printpack
Robert W. Woodruff Foundation
Southern Company Gas

Target HQ
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
The Coca-Cola Company
Truist