Raising awareness during Universal Health Month

Raising awareness during Universal Health Month

With such a large amount of diseases, illnesses and mental disorders present in the country, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, have created NHOs to combat the lack of empathy and information present on these health problems.

As defined by the government agency’s website, “the National Health Observances (NHOs) are special days, weeks or months dedicated to raising awareness about important health topics.”

The NHOs for December are specifically aimed to fight the lack of awareness and information on HIV/AIDS, and how important the flu vaccine is.

Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day, which is shown through support for people living with both AIDS/HIV, and Dec. 5–9 is also National Influenza Vaccination Week to showcase the importance of the flu vaccine, with support from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

While having a month along with highlighted days and months aimed at combating the lack of representation and awareness of these topics at hand are excellent, what about the other issues and concerns that aren’t made aware to the public?  

There are much more than just 12 areas of health issues plaguing the country, and more importantly, the mental health of each demographic and group of people are worsening.

It’s reported that millions of U.S. adults experience thoughts of suicide, with the highest rate among multiracial individuals. As noted in the article from Mental Health America, “the percentage of adults reporting serious thoughts of suicide is 4.84%, totaling over 12.1 million individuals.” “11% of adults who identified with two or more races reported serious thoughts of suicide in 2020 – 6% higher than the average among all adults.”

While there is an allocated NHO for mental health, the lack of awareness for more nuanced issues is more concerning.

In addition, a month to end the year with all of the collective health issues being highlighted would present more information and ultimately, awareness to the public in case they missed important knowledge. A final month with inclusive information would end the year with a comprehensive perspective on our growing health issues moving forward. 

The December month brings awareness to the World AIDS Day (12/1) every year, thought support for people living with both AIDS/HIV, and also has the National Influenza Vaccination Week (12/5 to 12/9) to showcase the importance of the flu vaccine, with support from the CDC.  

Lastly, Pierce College can institute a series of awareness-raising programs and themes, similar to the monthly NHOs. With seminars, speaker series and more information provided by the college, students would be more aware and inclusive to many of these health concerns.