Written By: Cara McDonnell
As future Public Health professionals it is not only our job, but also our responsibility to be aware, informed, and educated about the most current topics in our field. The ability to impact the health of an entire population was one major aspect that drew me to public health.I feel that it is my obligation to educate the public on what, in their eyes, may not be perceived as Public Health and to increase awareness on hot topic issues that are on course to have lasting impacts. Here, I have selected two recently published articles surrounding topics that are growing in importance to the health of the global population, especially the younger generation.
One issue that has been emerging at a distressing rate is antibiotic resistance, specifically to common diseases, such STDs. An article titled After an “Alarming” Rise in STDs, Three of the Most Common Infections Are Becoming Untreatable was published in Teen Vogue recently. In the article, it was stated that syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea are developing resistance to antibiotics. There are many distressing aspects to this problem. First, those most affected by STDs are between 20 and 24 years of age. Second, the CDC estimates that 20 million new infections occur each year in people between 15 and 25 years old. Lastly, these STDs have developed resistance to what is known as drugs of last resort. This places even more importance on our job to educate and inform the public, especially young adults, about practicing safe sex and the importance of condoms.
Mental illness, particularly depression, is also an issue of growing concern. A topic that used to be taboo, has become more discussed because communication about it is becoming more acceptable. In an article published by National Public Radio (NPR) titled, Mental Health in Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions of Students, the severity of this problem and the effects on children is highlighted. According to the article, 1 in 5 kids in the United States exhibit some form of mental health disorder. This highlights how huge of an issue it is for the younger population. However, nearly 80% of those children will not receive mental health services. Being diagnosed with a mental illness does not necessarily lead to treatment. A contributing factor to this problem is that teachers and parents often do not know the signs of mental illness that they should be looking for. Therefore, many behavioral or emotional changes are overlooked. When problems are identified, it may not be clear to a teacher or a family member what resources are available for the child.
My background is social and behavioral science, so my first instinct is to create an intervention that addresses educating those closest to the children on the signs and symptoms of mental disorders, services and resources available to them, and what they can do to help. The website below is a great link to help educate about child depression: https://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/anxiety-and-depression
The great thing about public health is that it is an interdisciplinary field and it relies on the minds, knowledge, and skills of a variety of health providers. We all have a part to play, but the first step is being educated and aware. It is my hope that after reading this, you might be driven to read some articles that inspire you to learn more about current topics in public health and increase awareness about them.
Edited by: Casey Parker
Cara McDonnell is currently a second-year Master of Public Health Candidate at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions concentrating in Social and Behavioral Sciences.