National Public Health Week kicks off.

    In the business world, a return on investment, or ROI, refers to the amount of profit made in relation to the capital invested.  In the world of public health, however, ROI is much different.  Public health measures ROI by the number of injuries and diseases prevented, lives saved and productivity gained.  In essence, building healthy communities is the “why” for investing in public health and prevention.  

    Investing in prevention and public health can make an enormous difference. And it starts with each of us taking the simple preventive steps that lead to better health.  Making informed decisions about our health and the health of our families will lead to better lifestyles down the road.  Promoting good eating habits, physical activity and mental health are some of the healthy decisions that we can make for ourselves and our families.

    While the responsibility of this falls on all of us, local public health serves as the catalyst for identifying specific local concerns and needs and building strong and sustainable partnerships with numerous stakeholders.  Public Health Champion, Tara Miller, noted there are opportunities for increased benefits from local public health connections.

    Miller, employed by Northwest Mental Health Center in Crookston as a school based social worker, supports health promotion through educating students and families about the relationship of mental health and its connection to overall health.  “We still have stigma about mental health in our society, but we are getting better about understanding that there really isn’t health without mental health”, added Miller.

    Miller’s main focus involves building school and family environments designed to increase an individual´s social competence, self-esteem and sense of wellbeing.  Her connection with public health allows her to reach students and families in non-traditional ways.  “Last summer, through a General Mills grant, PC Public Health employees got all the supplies and ingredients to demonstrate healthy recipes for students.  It was awesome and such a fun activity for the students.  It’s amazing how much more students open up while engaged in an activity”, offered Miller.  It was also an opportunity for Miller to increase students’ awareness about the importance of nutrition to our overall mental health.  “I observe a lot more “a-ha” moments in students when they are able to engage in activities such as this one”, Miller reported.  Miller also supervises the group of students who plant the garden behind Highland Elementary.  According to Miller conversations during activities like planting the garden or taking field trips provide great educational opportunities.

    Polk County Public Health salutes Tara Miller for her efforts in creating school and family atmospheres which foster mental health.