HEALTH EQUITY: What are health disparities and what can you do to prevent them?

Health disparities can happen to anyone at any time in anyplace. A health disparity is when you experience a disadvantage or difference in access to health facilities and services because of your social, economic or environmental status. Now, what exactly does that mean? Let’s pull an example for each of these categories to better help you understand health disparities. Then we’ll provide some tools and steps you can take to prevent them.

First off we have social disadvantage. A social disadvantage is when someone is discriminated against because of their race, religion, sexual orientation or immigration status. An example of how your social status affects your health could be a healthcare provider refusing to treat you because they don’t agree with the religion you practice. This refusal or discrimination can lead to your health suffering. Chances are that you will not seek out help in the future because you’re afraid to be rejected again. If you ever experience social disadvantages, know where to get help! Check out the Bureau of Health Equity on the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services website.  

Next we have economic disadvantage. This is when you might not be able to afford something as significant as going to school or getting the help you need to raise your new baby. For example, if you’re an expecting mom and don’t get the education you need on how to lead a healthy lifestyle, you can choose poor health behaviors. Poor health behaviors are things like smoking, drinking or poor nutrition. Click here to find out how you can make good health choices and build positive health behaviors today!

Finally we have what’s known as an environmental disadvantage. Where you live and eat can greatly affect your health. An example of environmental disadvantage could be living in the city and not having access to fresh, healthy foods for you and your family. Getting good, healthy food can be costly. It might be easier and cheaper to grab a bag of potato chips than it is to grab a bag of grapes. If you can’t afford healthy foods then you can’t maintain a healthy diet. To eat better while on the move check out these guidelines for ‘Healthy Eating’ from the State of Delaware and the ‘Munch Better’ initiative taking place across Delaware State Parks!

If you think your community is suffering from health disparities there are ways to get help. Health equity is important for all of us to live our happiest and healthiest life. Unfortunately, many areas don’t have this opportunity. When communities realize that health equity benefits all of us, they find work to find ways to promote it.  If you want to take action to change the disadvantages you or your community faces, check out The Community Toolbox. It will help you come up with a plan and stick to it!