“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
An Illinois budget for FY 2016 was to have been signed into law by July 1, 2015. However, the year continues onward and the state remains without a budget. Thousands of Illinoisans and organizations have been terribly affected by the budget crisis, and that number grows every day. Though the health impacts have not been immediate, over 200 insurance claims are on hold; programs such as Meals on Wheels, the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer program, and domestic violence and rape crises service centers are in jeopardy; and there are over 800 nonprofits unpaid from the Illinois Department of Human Services. Nearly half of all Illinois local health departments have implemented layoffs, cut the length of the work week, and reduced, suspended or terminated services posing the largest direct impact on Illinoisan’s health.
The value of storytelling in the field of public health
In light of this crisis, the Illinois Public Health Association called key public health agencies in Illinois to collaborate to address the resulting public health concerns. It became clear that public health does a poor job of communicating its importance in our daily lives. The value of public health needs to be shared with stakeholders, legislators and the community to garner support for funding and the viability of the services. A communications training for the public health workforce was requested and the Illinois Local Performance Site for the Region V – Great Lakes Public Health Training Center rose to meet the need.
“How do we sell public health?”
The Illinois Public Health Association, in partnership with the University of Illinois at Chicago MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice, the Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators, the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium and the Illinois Public Health Department are committed to the development and execution of the Illinois Strategic Communication for Leadership project. This project aims to meet the needs identified by the key public health agencies in Illinois to better communicate the value of public health, answering “How do we sell public health?”
A core leadership team, comprised of members representing key public health agencies as well as a paid communications consultant and facilitator are tasked with moving this project forward, identifying timelines and deliverables and ensuring project goals are met. A messaging workgroup, consisting of major players in public health communication, Public Information Officers, and local health department administrators, was developed to create messaging that shares the value of public health in Illinois. They will also identify the various trainings that will support the development and sharing of these messages.
Creating a clear, concise definition of public health that expresses the value and need
Many have worked to define Public Health and show its importance in everyday life. Leveraging this work, the Illinois Strategic Communication for Leadership project aims to create a clear, concise definition of public health that expresses the value and need. By unifying to create and understand how to share this message, we will have a stronger impact for the state. This project will undoubtedly lead to a stronger public health network for the state of Illinois.
This initiative is being developed in collaboration with the Illinois Public Health Association, Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Local Health Department representatives and the MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice. For more information on this program please contact Devangna Kapadia, Project Coordinator IL LPS/Assistant Director, and Elizabeth Fisher, Region V Great Lakes Public Health Training (Region V GLPHTC) Evaluation Coordinator, at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice.
Learn more about Region V Great Lakes Public Health Training Collaborative »