Health is changing – be part of the revolution!
25,000 people in England die each year from heart diseases related to smoking and 40,000 people die each year from illnesses in which air pollution was a contributing factor. In England alone, in 2016-17 there were 617,000 admissions to hospital in which obesity was a factor. 1 in 4 people have a mental health problem and a study by the Red Cross shows that 9 million people in the UK are lonely - social isolation can be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
For many hundreds of years, we have viewed the body as a machine and considered illness/ disease as a sign of the machine malfunctioning. But is this the full picture?
Think about something like your phone. It is a machine that can (usually) be made to work if it’s broken, by someone with the appropriate knowledge, but there are many things outside of the actual mechanisms which play a part in whether it breaks down or not – the air temperature, whether you have a screen protector on, how you carry it around, whether you have antivirus software or not…
It’s the same for health
We know that people who have a healthy diet, regular physical activity, live in clean and safe homes and who have meaningful social connections are less likely to develop ‘non-communicable diseases’ or mental health problems. People who have access to all of these things also live better with existing mental or physical health challenges. The new approach to public health and mental health means a move away from the medical model that we’ve adhered to in the past.
This, in turn, means that fresh eyes from outside of the traditional disciplines are needed and the range of careers open to graduates in this area is expanding rapidly. Health improvement, public health, substance misuse, social prescribing, talking therapies, advocacy, criminal justice, research, policy development, communications, fundraising, education, NHS management or safeguarding are just some of the areas you might be practising in after graduation. You could also join the growing number of people who are bringing their own solutions to the table and starting up community interest companies which are not for profit businesses that have a social mission.
There’s more to our health than medicine and there’s never been a better time to become part of the sea change that’s happening.