Over the last two years, Healthier Together led the planning and implementation of a two-county, community-based approach for creating and maintaining healthy communities using a process that fits unique needs while still responding to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Efforts included the completion of a community health survey and focus groups and key informant interviews to identify community health strengths and concerns, gathering input and feedback from local stakeholders on areas of community concern, and the development of a community health improvement plan to address the chosen priorities.
The final priority areas for the 2023-25 plan are mental, social and emotional wellness and thriving and livable communities for all.
Mental wellness includes our emotional, psychological and social health. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make healthy choices.
Healthier Together is focused on creating policy, systems and environmental changes that support mental wellness for all residents of Pierce and St. Croix Counties and prevent mental illness from occurring.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing economic concerns have negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new challenges for those already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders,” Brandi Poellinger, east region community engagement manager at Regina Hospital and River Falls Area Hospital, said. “Healthier Together is committed to innovative strategies to improve access to mental health resources and services, re-establish a work-life balance and build resiliency skills to heal after a very challenging couple of years.”
Healthier Together understands that the conditions in the environments where our residents are born, live, learn, work, play and age affect a wide range of health outcomes.
These conditions can include factors such as economic stability, access to quality education and childcare, access to health care, access to affordable and healthy housing, access to transportation, safe air and water, access to nutritious foods, and safe and plentiful places for physical activity.
“The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated and highlighted inequities that have long existed in our communities,” Alyson Sauter, 211 community impact director at United Way St Croix Valley, said. “By deepening our understanding of these issues and opportunities in our communities, we seek to advocate for and support policy and system changes that expand and create environments that promote attaining the full potential of health and wellbeing for all.”