Health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing rather than merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Health is shaped by the cultural, social, political, economic, ecological, and physical settings in which we live, work, and play. These “social determinants of health” dictate daily experiences, physical and emotional wellbeing, how long we live, and our ability to change the quality and course of our lives.
The City’s role in supporting health in Arcata is aiding in the creation of physical and social environments that afford its residents the greatest possible opportunities for wellbeing. This charge includes the provision of safe and affordable housing and transportation, as well as opportunities for economic prosperity, physical activity, recreation, education, and community connection.
While this Health Element was developed for the General Plan 2045 the City of Arcata’s recognition of its responsibility to positively affect health and wellbeing in its jurisdiction is not new. Decades of City policy codify the City’s continuous commitment to acting in service of community health. For example, the 1976 Physical Design Recommendations for Achieving Community Goals Social Goals report establishes objectives such as: provide for a healthful environment, provide for personal safety, provide for a socially diverse community, promote a sense of community membership and social worth, and more—goals that are reflected and updated in the policy priorities of this Element.
Many of the City’s responsibilities that support health are also detailed in other General Plan Elements (including Housing, Infrastructure and Public Facilities, Transportation Open Space, and Parks and Recreation), and language related to health is integrated throughout them. However, to prioritize Arcatans’ wellbeing, this Element is dedicated to health-specific goals and policies.
This Element also focuses on health equity. Disparities in health and wellbeing outcomes correlate with lower socioeconomic status, race and skin color, and disability status. Some residents face disproportionate barriers to health and wellbeing due to these factors, which should not be determinants of health. This Element includes policies to reduce inequitable health outcomes.
Guiding Principles and Goals.
- Ensure all residents can enjoy physical, social, and mental health and wellbeing, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, social position, economic position, culture, background, or any other factor of identity.
- Understand that a community’s socio-economic, built, and natural environments influence every resident’s health. Recognize both the integrated nature of these systems and the City’s responsibility in ensuring that its actions promote physical, social, and mental health and wellbeing.
- Partner with and promote local agencies, nonprofits, and community-based organizations that are already working to support the health and wellbeing of Arcata residents.
- Eliminate the disproportionate and unjust barriers to health that some Arcata residents face based on neighborhood and/or factors of identity.
- Support healthy eating and active living programs.
- Increase opportunities for community engagement.
Read the draft Element here.