Building healthy communities

Getting good care in a clinic or hospital is important, but it’s only a small part of what makes us healthy. Socio-economic factors like education, jobs and family and support; behaviors like diet and exercise and tobacco and alcohol use; and the quality of our environment all influence our health.

These factors are often called determinants of health. They all matter, and they’re interconnected.

This is why – as an organization with a mission of health and well-being – we devote so much of our time and energy into the health of our community, centered around six areas: health equity, wellness and prevention, healthy children, mental health, and nutrition and fitness. 

One in five adults experience a mental illness in any given year, yet most wait an average of 10 years before seeking treatment. Mental illnesses can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, religion or income. But people are still afraid to talk about them due to shame, misunderstanding, negative attitudes and fear of discrimination. Our multi-state Make It OK campaign encourages people to talk openly about mental illness by training local ambassadors, promotion and partnerships with local agencies and public health departments.

In a recent study, communities involved in the Make it OK campaign showed notable improvement in reducing stigma:

  • More people feel comfortable talking with someone about their mental illness (66% to 71%)
  • More people say they would tell friends if they had a mental illness (34% to 41%)
  • Fewer people say they would be reluctant to seek help (50% to 46%)

Science shows that the foundation for mental health and emotional development is built early in life, as early experiences shape the architecture of the developing brain with lifelong implications to learning, health and behavior. That’s why, in 2015, HealthPartners helped launch Little Moments Count, a community movement meant to inspire every parent and caregiver to play, talk, read and sing with the children in their life, especially from birth to age three. Little Moments Count now includes more than 50 cross-sector, diverse organizations working collectively to promote the benefits of early brain development.

“Babies are learning even before they are born, but the minute they’re in our arms, they benefit from hearing us talk, read, sing and learn from play. These little moments with our babies can easily be incorporated into daily life – even for exhausted new parents – and provide one of the biggest returns on investment of anything you ever do for your child.

PowerUp expands access and increases engagement

PowerUp is a community-wide initiative that provides extensive resources, recipes and programs for families, schools and the community to encourage them to eat better and move more. A newly designed website, powerup4kids.org, has expanded access to activities, programs and resources, including an online recipe gallery with more than 300 kid‐approved recipes.

Research around the effectiveness of PowerUp has shown statistically significant increases in physical activity levels among youth over time in targeted communities. A review of BMI data showed a downward trend in the BMIs of children 6-10 years old in specific PowerUp communities compared to other patients in the broader care system. 

The American Red Cross is experiencing its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. The organization has seen a 10 percent decline in the number of people donating blood since the start of the pandemic, and it continues to confront issues including ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations. HealthPartners is a long-standing partner with the Red Cross, holding 33 internal and community blood drives each year on average. Even as our teams took on the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, HealthPartners colleagues donated nearly 2,000 units of blood in 2021 – enough to potentially save 5,790 lives. 

“From the blood donors who take the time to donate, to our labs and health care teams who use blood for patients in need, HealthPartners is proud to be part of this lifesaving cycle.”