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Health and Wellness as the Ultimate Equalizer

March 6, 2020
Posted by Andrea Palmer

There’s a lot of much needed attention on women’s achievements today, and for good reason. March 8 marks International Women’s Day and the theme – #EachforEqual – has me thinking about equality as it relates to PHM – our clients, our business and our people.

Health is at the core of everything we do at PHM and issues of equality are core to our health. And health, as it turns out, is strongly influenced by certain social factors that impact women and stand to be corrected by them, as well.

#EachforEqual in Health
There are many social determinants of health – income, race, gender and zip code. For example, the maternal mortality rate is higher for African American women than white women in the US. It’s even higher than that of women in many developing countries, thanks to inequitable access to treatment. And the Cleveland Clinic recently shared some eye-opening insights at the Lake Nona Institute’s Impact Forum in February around health inequalities that reveal a 20-year life expectancy swing at the zip code level in key cities across America.

This type of global health inequality is a phenomenon that impacts women everywhere in different ways. But as women achieve greater parity, it can be overcome.

Already there’s a shift in the demographic makeup of the medical community that stands to advance equality in medical care. As I discussed last year at Cannes with Dr. Esther Choo and Conde Nast in our session and subsequent investigative report, the Doc with the Dragon Tattoo, the face of HCPs are changing for the better. The profession is becoming less lucrative and less elite, which means doors will start opening and barriers come down. We’re going to see a lot more women and people of color moving into the field of medicine. We know that when you have someone who looks like you, you get better care, or are more likely to adhere to medical advice. Greater equality will equate to better health outcomes.

#EachforEqual in Content

Just as the medical community is becoming more reflective of the wider population and helping to improve outcomes, greater equality in how we communicate promises positive change. There are more women involved in creating messages and creative content. Leaders are embracing new ways to speak to digitally savvy younger women, people on the spectrum of sexual and gender identity and an aging population that is often less technologically adept.

We are telling honest stories that will gain the public’s trust – whether it’s using short-form video on TikTok or good old fashioned over the air media on morning TV. The rise in personalization means we need more meaningful content that connects in personal ways.

A better reflection of diversity in advertising also means better health outcomes. When people see themselves reflected in health and wellness content – their skin tone, their size, their sexual orientation – they pay closer attention. Ultimately, a better reflection of society and personalization in content leads to healthier people. This is a no-brainer.

At PHM, we are working to raise awareness of these issues and working closely with our creative partners and the publishing community to drive these connections. Because we know that health is the new wealth and it is achievable for more people, if we work together to ensure we are creating what I call, content with a conscience

We also know that people search in ways that are personal to them, especially when it comes to health and wellness, but content doesn’t always match what people need. That’s why our team spearheaded the creation of HLTHQ, a powerful analytics platform fueling a better content strategy for today’s healthcare marketers. HLTHQ helps to ensure that we are creating the content people need to address their unique issues. 

There’s a great diversity in women the world over and their health concerns. Speaking to them, with people who are like them in the places they frequent, will go a long way toward achieving better health.

#EachforEqual in Love

Equality is still elusive for many women. Add matters of sexual orientation and gender fluidity, and that inequality is amplified, often with dire results in terms of medical and mental health. There’s a mental health crisis in this country and for the LBGTQ+ community that crisis is amplified. Members of this community are more likely to experience depression and attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.

Achieving equal status goes a long way here and we are seeing positive trends in mental health as a result. Following the legalization of gay marriage in the US, the rate of attempted suicide among LGBT teens declined by 14% and 7% among all teens, according to a study by the Associated Press. The study was conducted in states where gay marriage was legalized prior to the 2015 Supreme Court decision that extended those rights to all 50 states. There was no decline in attempted suicide among this group in states where gay marriage had been illegal prior to 2015. It’s hard to imagine something speaking more loudly to the importance of equality.

It’s why we are re-launching our beloved #PHMLove, a grassroots campaign that celebrates the beautiful spectrum of people at Publicis Health Media. This program was born of the agency, but has grown bigger than our offices. #PHMLove will help to raise awareness in the broader health, marketing and media world across a variety of topics. But mental health in the LBGTQ+ community will be our first focus area because for PHM, this is a critical topic. We have influence, motivated people and a lot of #PHMlove to share. We will share more details about this effort in the coming weeks. 

#EachforEqual is a meaningful message that we are happy to celebrate this International Women’s Day – and every day – to help us all live better.


Connect with Andrea on LinkedIn.

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