PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY

Policy Directors: Olivia Di Giulio and Ethan Johanson

Advocacy Director: Elizabeth Nguyen

 

The Public Health Policy sector focuses on the health and wellbeing of society. Especially when affecting the entire human population, public health in aspects of COVID-19 and other epidemics, mental health, and healthcare accessibility and affordability among many other topics are essential to maintaining health and quality of life. 

1. COVID-19 Student mental health (SMH) response plan

May 2020

The Public Health Policy Team’s first policy paper addresses the exacerbated mental health afflictions high school students are prone to experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and social distancing mandates. Given that many high school students’ primary mental health resources came from their temporarily closed schools, the policy advocates for the facilitation of a partnership with Virginia counties to both provide students access to mental health resources. To accomplish these goals, the policy promotes the implementation of MindWise Innovations’ Signs of Suicide (SOS) Prevention Program, which incorporates a student training, guided discussion, and depression screening. Additionally, the policy calls for the administration of Red Cross’s COVID-19-specific Psychological First Aid Training for faculty, equipping them foster an environment of mental wellness in their classrooms, identify signs of poor mental health in students, and subsequently connect students with proper counseling resources.

2. Time for 9 toolkit

July 2020

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health disparities among minority groups have been shown by how the virus is disproportionately impacting minority groups. Not only is COVID-19 exacerbating the systematic racial disparities in the American healthcare system, but it is also targeting those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. To most efficiently aid minority and low income communities, a combination of factors that each contribute to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 must be addressed. The Time For 9 Toolkit aims to empower elected officials to effectively address these inequities by uplifting successful models of equity focused testing protocols, community-government partnerships, and resource allocation in cities and states across the country. 

3. Interpreter Services for Limited English  Speakers (ISLES)

October 2020

The expanding number of languages spoken across Virginia, the significant increase in Medicaid enrollees in Virginia over the past four years, and the lack of accountability concerning Medicaid standards of linguistic equity as outlined in Title VI convergently illuminate a stark need for interpreter service reimbursement reform within Virginia’s Medicaid framework. The ISLES plan encourage DMAS (Department of Medical Assistance Services) to recommend that MCOs (Managed Care Organizations) hire certified medical interpreters and compile a list of certifications and language proficiency exams that would affirm an interpreter’s value to a MCO. Our policy also calls for DMAS to reimburse MCOs for costs related to translation and interpretation services. 

4. Prison Reforms to Improve Menstrual Equity (PRIME)

January 2021

Individuals living in correctional facilities must quickly adapt to a loss of autonomy. Beyond their loss of several civil rights, incarcerated individuals are continually stripped of their dignity through a lack of control over their personal hygiene. Limited access to menstrual products in correctional facilities across the United States poses a threat to not only the dignity, but the physical wellness and safety of incarcerated menstruators. In Muskegon, County, Michigan, prison staff forced thirty incarcerated menstruators to share a pack of twelve pads leaving less than half of one pad per individual. When this case was brought forward in court, it was decided that the “deprivation of menstrual products was “de minimus” -- too trivial to be considered a violation of the Constitution.” The lack of legislative and judicial accountability concerning menstrual equity in correctional facilities creates dire consequences for incarcerated menstruators. Menstrual equity advocate and former inmate Kimberly Haven reports that throughout her sentence, overpriced menstrual products from the commissary and uncomfortable encounters with correctional officers compelled her to craft her own menstrual products. Due to toxic shock syndrome caused by her makeshift products, when Ms. Haven returned home, she needed a hysterectomy. Ms. Haven is one of many individuals who has endured physical turmoil and a degrading power imbalance resulting from the stigma and shame surrounding menstruation, a societal burden that is only made heavier inside prison walls.

© 2020 by The Greater Good Initiative.

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