- 6 Solutions To 6 Social Determinants Of Health In Houston
- 1. Socioeconomic Status As a Social Determinant of Health
- 2. Employment As a Social Determinant of Health
- 3. Education – Social Determinant Of Health
- 4. Social Support Networks – Social Determinant of Health
- 5. Neighborhood – Social Determinant of Health
- 6. Access To Healthcare – Social Determinants of Health
6 Solutions To 6 Social Determinants Of Health In Houston
In this article, we will discuss 6 solutions to 6 social determinants of health in Houston.
Living in the the medical capital of the world has its health benefits, but there are also many community issues that impact people’s health.
The 6 social determinants of health that we will discuss include:
- Socioeconomic Status
- Social Support
- Access to Healthcare
Keep reading to see how these determinants can impact your life.
1. Socioeconomic Status As a Social Determinant of Health
Your place in society has an impact on the level of health and resources that you have access to.
A person living with a low socioeconomic status or in poverty may have a harder time succeeding due to limited access to people who can help them solve their problems.
It’s not to say that those individuals cannot exceed, it just takes more effort, because the answers to your problems may not be readily available. The faster your can get good actionable answers, the faster you can solve the problems you are facing.
This is why it’s important to have direct access to people who can help you come to solutions quickly.
How To Overcome Your Socioeconomic Status
If you do not have the access that you need, here are things you can do to change that:
- Recognize Who Has The Answers – If you don’t have the answers, then who does? If its a medical problem, likely a doctor has them. If its financial, probably a hiring manager can help you. Once you recognize who can help you approach that person to ask for help.
- Learn How To Ask Questions – Once you find that person, approach them and ask them the right questions. Before approaching that person, consider exactly what you want from them and what questions you will ask. Although you may have multiple needs start with 1-2 needs, ask for their advice, and most importantly…listen.
- Offer To Help People In High Places – Lastly, when speaking to people who can help you, consider what you can do to help them in return. The help you offer does not need to be monetary. One simple example is if you are applying for a community resource program offer to provide all the documents needed to them within 24 hours. Showing other people that you are willing to make an effort and you are not simply waiting on them to solve your issues, can motivate that person to go above and beyond to help you.
One way to improve your socioeconomic status is through gaining the access of people and professionals who can help you solve problems.
Rather than altering your socioeconomic status for vanity reasons, make maximizing your potential the driving force for networking with others.
2. Employment As a Social Determinant of Health
Whether or not you are employed also has an impact on your health.
Being employed means that you will have a steady monthly income, and when the need arises, you’ll be able to access money for copayments, prescriptions, or hospital bills.
Employment also provides you with the chance to purchase affordable, quality health insurance. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, 49% of the people who have health insurance, get it from their employer. If you are unemployed, then this type of benefit may not be an option for you.
Having a disability makes it more difficult to find employment. Unless you have a disability and already qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, your options for healthcare could be limited.
How To Overcome The Lack Of Employment
First off if you are unemployed and want to work contact these Houston staffing agencies for help with job placement. These employment agencies work with local businesses to help them fill open job positions. The only thing you need to do is provide them with a resume. Even if you lack a resume, many times these staffing agencies in Houston can help you create one.
The Texas Workforce Commission offers vocational programs that prepare Texans with disabilities to work.
Houston Center for Independent Living offers a number of resources and assistance programs to disabled individuals in Houston. One area of expertise is helping disabled individuals find employment in Houston.
3. Education – Social Determinant Of Health
Lacking education can impact your health in a few ways.
If you lack education, it may be slightly more difficult to navigate problems that you face. Navigating healthcare is one example, because it can be confusing! Working in healthcare for 11 years I even have a difficult time understanding some things, so I can only image what it is like if you are a regular citizen.
In many cases, the more education you have the better understanding you will have of certain topics like health and nutrition. Once you have a clear understanding of how your body works and what it needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you will be in a better position to make healthy choices.
In addition your education also determines the job opportunities available to you and how much money you can earn. As you can see one social determinant of health can have an impact on other areas.
How To Overcome A Lack Of Education
There are many nonprofits in Houston that provide some form of life skills training. This can be help finding employment, homeownership, or nutrition classes. Examples include:
- SER Houston and Work Faith Connection both offer employment training and job placement services.
- Houston Area Urban League offers homeownership courses.
- For nutrition classes you contact places like the Houston Food Bank, WIC, or the City of Houston DAWN Diabetes Management Program.
4. Social Support Networks – Social Determinant of Health
Having a strong support system can lead to better health also.
For men, marriage usually offers a lengthier life than not being married. In addition, Harvard Medical School also states that the longer you stay married the greater chance you have to remain healthy.
This is not only true for men, but women also. Having a partner can help you live a longer life. There are many health insurance plans that will offer you a reduced monthly premium simply for living with a spouse!
Even if you are not married, you can still benefit from having social support from family, friends, or coworkers. These people can help you by talking through mental health problems, offering actionable solutions to issues, or helping you pay for rent if you fall on hard times.
How To Overcome A Lack Of Social Support
Sometimes all the social support that you need is already there. If you have family or friends that care about you make an effort to communicate with them more often. Scheduling fun weekend outings with them or simply jump on Facetime to see those old familiar faces.
You can also garner support from cool coworkers. I would not suggest becoming best buds with all your coworkers, you likely have 1-2 that are loyal who you can trust.
Now if you don’t have a network of friends or family, you can find support. Look to places like churches, gyms, softball leagues, travel groups, the dog parks, or any other interest that you have.
When you lack the social support needed to feel good about yourself it can be hard to seek out support, but once you start interacting with others you will wish that you started networking with others sooner.
5. Neighborhood – Social Determinant of Health
Your neighborhood is another social determinant.
This category includes things such as pollution, crime rates, access to healthy food and resources like schools or parks.
While Houston’s petrol-chemical industry certainly benefits those working in the plants, it does not help those living in and around the plants. Places like Galena Park and other Houston ship channel neighborhoods tend to suffer from poor air quality which then leads to higher rates of asthma in the community.
Living in a low-income neighborhood also means there is a high likelihood of being in a food desert. We’ve already discussed the implications of being in a food desert and how those areas can negatively impact your health.
How To Overcome Social Determinants Of Health In Your Neighborhood
Moving out of a bad area may be the fastest way to escape the social determinants discussed above, but this may not be a realistic solution…
Or desirable if you have roots in that neighborhood and you want to remain there.
One thing that you can do to overcome these environmental factors like these is lobby to city leaders about the issues you see.
Visit the City of Houston website to find the City Council Member who represents your area. Whether the problem you are concerned about is environmental, related to crime, or access to healthcare, these individuals can listen and connect you to people or information to help you.
Contact your state representative by visiting a website like the US House of Representatives where you can enter your zip code and find out who represents you in the government.
6. Access To Healthcare – Social Determinants of Health
Lastly, access to healthcare is another social determinant of health.
Simply put, if you cannot find a doctor that is close to you, or if you do not have health insurance you will be less likely to see a doctor on a regular basis.
Having health coverage and a doctor that you routinely see can help you to avoid major health issues in the future like chronic conditions.
Luckily for you living in the medical capital of the world, you are surrounded by plenty of options for healthcare if you are uninsured and even if your income is $0.
In the next section I will provide you with options that you have for healthcare.
How To Overcome A Lack Of Healthcare Access
No matter where you are located in Houston these next 4 options are available to you.
- Harris Health Gold Card – This is a safety net health insurance coverage for citizens in Harris County. The Gold Card allows you to receive care at any Harris Health System clinic or facility at a reduced rate.
- FQHC Clinics Houston – These are federally funded clinics that provide outpatient care to uninsured and low income residents. Services are not necessarily free, but do operate on a sliding scale.
- The Nurse Health Line – The Memorial Hermann Nurse Health Line (713.338.7979) is a 24 hour telephone number that you can use to speak to nurses who can provide you with medical advice. This number is good to use if you are not sure if an emergency room visit is needed, because they can medical screen you over the phone to let you know which course of action you should take.
- Emergency Treatment In A Hospital – If you have a medical emergency a federal law called EMTALA mandates that the hospital treat you until you are stabilized. While you will be treated, EMTALA not entitle you to free treatment. You will still be billed for that hospital visit.
Social determinants of health can impact your life in different ways, but they are not all insurmountable.
Some take longer to overcome than others because you may not have as much control over the situation.
The one thing that you have the most control over is getting a primary care doctor – especially if you live in Harris County
There are low cost clinics, telemedicine options, and a free Nurse Health Line to answer your questions over the phone.
Be patient, commit to trying to improve your life a little each day, and this will put you in the best position to overcome any of the barriers you are facing.
Nick Bryant is a Counselor with 11 years of experience working in community health. He enjoys concerts, walks with the doggo and wife, mocking Dallas Cowboy fans, and sharing community resources. Jump on the Houston Case Managers email list to receive weekly community resource guides delivered directly to your inbox.