University Health Service

"Everyone should have a fair opportunity to attain their full health potential and no one should be disadvantaged from achieving this potential." -World Health Organization

 

What is Health Equity?

Health equity can be defined as "the attainment of the highest level of health for all people." On the U-M campus, health and well-being is not experienced equally by all students. Racism, xenophobia, ableism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of oppression are harmful to student health and well-being, leading to health disparities that impact students' college or graduate school experience. Pursuing health equity means we work continually to address inequitable contributors to health, and to make resources more responsive to what students need.

How can we improve health equity?

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation offers four steps to practice:

1. Identify important health disparities

2. Change and implement policies, laws, systems, environments, and practices to reduce inequities in the opportunities and resources needed to be as healthy as possible

3. Evaluate and monitor efforts using short- and long-term measures

4. Reassess strategies in light of process and outcomes, and plan next steps

Cultural Competence vs. Cultural Humility

Cultural competence is a model in which health care providers or organizations seek to promote positive and effective interactions with diverse cultures and understand the core needs of a target audience, designing services and materials to meet those needs. Some limitations of this model are that it can lead to assumptions or stereotyping, and it's difficult to become "competent" in a culture that's not your own.

Cultural humility, on the other hand, means a lifelong commitment to self-reflection and self-discovery (e.g. of our own beliefs, values, assumptions, and biases). This work is never finished, rather, it's an ongoing curiosity about how our own culture affects our understanding. Through cultural humility, we work to fix power imbalances and advocate for systematic changes within our organizations.

Coming Soon: Health Equity Grant

If your U-M student organization is engaged in activities to promote well-being among students impacted by campus health disparities, UHS Wolverine Wellness wants to help! Check back soon for information about applying to our new Health Equity Grant, which will make funds and public health consultation available for student-led health equity projects. Questions? Email lastmc@umich.edu

See also:

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Achieving Health Equity

Health Equity Institute at San Francisco State University

U-M Student Life's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan

Wolverine Wellness

Office for Health Equity and Inclusion at Michigan Medicine