Top Public Health Issues and Ways to Prevent Them

Health Issues

The healthcare in the United States is applaudable. From world-class hospitals to top-notch facilities, Americans can access some of the best medical services available.

However, public health issues can often be an overlooked aspect of overall health and wellness. These issues refer to the health problems that affect a large group or population rather than an individual.

Tackling these issues requires a combined effort from various groups, including public health professionals, governments, and citizens.

The first step to solving these issues is understanding what they are.

This article will look at our nation’s most prevalent public health issues. We will also discuss some strategies that can help prevent them.

Substance Abuse:

Substance abuse is a major health issue in the United States. It refers to the misuse of alcohol or other drugs, such as opioids, marijuana, and cocaine.

According to studies, 37% of the US population struggles with illicit drug use. At the same time, 12% are addicted to alcohol and drugs. It results in health risks, including physical dependence, mental health problems, and even death.

To prevent substance abuse, health professionals can offer counseling and treatment to those struggling.

Additionally, health informatics can be used to track and monitor illicit drug use in our communities. Experts have health informatics defined as “the use of health information technology and health science to analyze health data.”

It can be used to identify patterns in drug usage, which can then be used to develop prevention strategies. Raising awareness and educating the public on the dangers of substance abuse is also crucial.

Finally, the government can step in by creating public health policies and legislation that reduce access to illicit drugs. It can also provide resources for addiction treatment. Programs like The Drug-Free Communities Support Program (DFCSP) have been successful in this regard. 

Obesity:

Over the years, obesity has become a major public health concern in the United States. It is estimated that more than 40% of adults and 20% of children in the US are classified as obese.

This condition puts people at a higher risk for heart disease, cancer, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. 

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The causes are:

  1. An unhealthy diet
  2. Lack of physical activity
  3. Genetics 

To reduce the number of people affected by obesity, Americans need to focus on healthy eating habits and physical activity.

It should include the following:

  • Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into meals
  • Limiting unhealthy fats and sugars
  • Getting a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days

Additionally, health professionals can help by providing support and education to those struggling with obesity. It could be through lifestyle counseling, medical weight-loss treatments, or other resources.

Plus, government initiatives can help too. For instance, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurance companies to cover obesity treatments.

Cardiovascular Disease:

Heart disease and stroke are two prevalent causes of death in the US. Cardiovascular diseases refer to any condition that affects the heart or blood vessels.

These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure

A healthy lifestyle is key to preventing these diseases. It includes a balanced diet, regular physical activity, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption.

There are various ways for health professionals to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It includes identifying those at high risk and providing them with the necessary support and resources.

Furthermore, public health initiatives can be used to spread awareness on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For instance, The Million Hearts Initiative is a nationwide program that prevents heart attacks and strokes.

Clinical Depression:

Clinical depression is a mental disorder that affects 9% of the adult US population. It is characterized by interminable sadness, loss of interest in activities, and difficulty with daily functioning.

Certain factors can increase the risk of depression.

These include:

  • Stressful events
  • Family history of depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Certain medications and medical conditions

These episodes of late-life depression are higher among the elderly, highlighting the importance of preventing depression in seniors.

It is important for those suffering from clinical depression to get the proper treatment and support.

Luckily, the stigma surrounding mental health is slowly fading away. People are more willing to speak openly about their struggles and seek professional help.

Moreover, professionals extend their reach to those in need by creating virtual mental health care services.

These allow people to get counseling, therapy, and other forms of treatment without leaving their homes’ safety.

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The government can also help by increasing funding for mental health research, offering grants and loan repayment programs for mental health professionals, and providing financial assistance to those in need.

Borderline Personality Disorders:

It is estimated that 1.4% of the US population suffers from borderline personality disorder (BPD).

This condition is characterized by:

  • Intense mood swings
  • Impulsivity
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Unstable relationships
  • Difficulty in regulating emotions

The exact cause of BPD is unknown, but research suggests that it combines genetic and environmental factors.

The best way to prevent this disorder is by providing the necessary support for those at risk.

Health professionals can do this by providing early detection and management of the symptoms and offering therapy and medication.

Some treatments focus on the underlying causes of BPD, such as childhood trauma and family dynamics. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and medications.

Phobias:

Phobias range from a fear of heights to a fear of spiders. They can be debilitating and majorly impact one’s quality of life. In the US, it is estimated that 19.2 million adults suffer from some phobia. These individuals may experience anxiety, fear, and avoidance of the object or situation that triggers the phobia.

Some of the most common phobias include:

  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD): fear of being judged or disapproved
  • Agoraphobia: fear of open or crowded spaces
  • Claustrophobia: fear of confined, tight spaces
  • Specific Phobias: fear of animals, heights, fire, and more

The best way to prevent phobias is by providing the necessary support and resources. It includes individual and group therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes.

The two therapies that do wonders are:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

It is a therapy that helps people understand their irrational thoughts and feelings, helping them manage fear.

Exposure Therapy:

It helps people confront their fears, eventually leading to desensitization.

Final Thoughts:

These are just a few of the major public health issues that the US is facing today. With the right strategies and resources, we can work together to reduce the number of people affected by these issues and ultimately improve our overall health.

But self-care and preventive measures should always be the first step.

So, ensure you’re eating right, staying active, avoiding risky behaviors, and getting regular check-ups.

By caring for ourselves and those around us, we can create a healthier future for all.

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