Where we live, work, learn and play determines nearly 80 percent of our health. While educating individuals is important, environmental, social and economic factors largely determine the choices we have available. These factors are linked to social norms and systems that have left many people behind. Every Coloradan should have equitable access and opportunity to thrive regardless of who they are or where they live.
The most effective approaches to prevention are comprehensive. Educating individuals, addressing concerns in the relationships of their lives, changing their communities where they live and access resources, and changing the policies and societal norms that influence behaviors are all critical to preventing unwanted health outcomes in a holistic way. Acknowledging how this work can be comprehensive across many spheres is working within the socio-ecological model (SEM). This branch prioritizes changing the context at the organizational, community and societal levels to improve the environments where we live, work, learn and play. Together, we pool resources and share work to change these environments that will impact all of our outcomes, including:
- Older Adult Falls.
- Opioid Overdoses.
- Motor Vehicle Injuries and Fatalities.
- Sexual Violence.
- Interpersonal Violence.
- Child Maltreatment.
- Traumatic Brain Injury.
- Substance Use/Misuse.
The VIP-MHP Branch goal is to create healthy, thriving and resilient communities free from violence and injury. Research from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention shows that many forms of violence and injury are connected and share many of the same risk and protective factors. These factors can put someone more or less at risk of experiencing violence and injury. By focusing efforts on those upstream common factors across four priorities including connectedness, the VIP-MHP branch breaks down silos that often exist between public health issues, and works to prevent much of the violence and injury that occurs in Colorado.
By addressing each of the priorities through policy, systems and social norm changes that are community and data driven, we can build resilience and prevent multiple forms of violence and injury in communities across Colorado.
Example from Our Work:
By building public support to change, enact and enforce school- and community-wide policies that connect youth with caring adults, we know youth are more likely to ask for help in tough situations, follow restrictions in place for Graduated Drivers’ License laws, and steer clear of drugs and alcohol. Focusing on this one factor has an impact on many health outcomes including the prevention of suicide, substance abuse, violence, and motor vehicle crashes.
For the above information in handout form, please click here.