Author: Jasper Lee
As we embrace the new year, we also find ourselves – community members, organizers, public health professionals – grappling with the complicated realities of our personal lives, careers, and the 3rd calendar year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are CHTI’s top 5 reminders and public health New Year’s resolutions for 2022:
1. There’s no one way to do ‘the work.’
We need all hands on deck when it comes to improving the mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing of our communities – youth workers, community organizers, activists, government agencies, nonprofits, you name it! It can be hard to measure your impact if you aren’t engaged in direct service work. But as we move into another year of challenges and successes, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that there is no one correct way to fight for liberation and the right to self-determination. If you’re feeling isolated from your impact, we encourage you to increase your collaboration across the field to see more of your effort on a variety of levels – and get better results for your communities!
2. Public health is about people.
Lately, there’s been increased media attention to the politicization of public health. Federal party politics and governmental disputes have led to a divided front in COVID-19 response and public vaccinations. We know that the personal (and thus health) is political – and that may mean that public health gets caught in the crosshairs of legislation and industry pressures.
Ultimately, however, basic rights such as access to vaccines, disease prevention, safe housing, healthy food, safe transportation, and clean water are about people and health as a human right. We need to center people and their outcomes in our work to ensure equitable treatment and access to resources.
3. Unlearn the divide between you and your communities.
You don’t check your identities and experiences at the office – or Zoom – door. You’re a part of several communities, so embrace how your lived experiences enrich your work and help you connect to the people you work with and for. Think about how you can participate in your community/ies movements and increase equity by leaning into your own experiences with health, justice, and access to add an extra dimension of intentionality and thoughtfulness to your mission.
4. Center joy in your work environment.
With all the pressure placed on us to fight the pandemic, and overcome longstanding barriers that were in place even before COVID, burnout is inevitable. Support your colleagues, celebrate the small and large victories, and be gracious with yourself! Just because the work we do is critical doesn’t mean that we can’t laugh at work.
Talk with your colleagues about how you all can bring light and happiness to your workplace. Revolution and radical change ought to be joyful!
5. Invest in at least one thing for yourself, every day.
It’s important to remember that you’re not a ‘worker’ but a ‘person who works.’ In these pandemic-riddled conditions it’s easy for our personal and work lives to become more entangled – no matter how good you are at boundary setting. Self-care has become somewhat of a platitude, but as you advocate for things like healthy food, mental health treatment, and better opportunities for the people you work for, you need to do the same for yourself.
Whether exercise, watching a show, ordering takeout, or actually taking that lunch break, you don’t ‘earn’ rest – you’re entitled to it. Give your body, mind, and spirit the attention they deserve!
In closing: If any of these resolutions resonate with you, we encourage you to take action! The Community Health Training Institute is here as a resource and point of connection; we’re happy to facilitate efforts and dialogue among our coalition members and kick off 2022 united and strong. Let us know how we can best support you! Happy New Year!