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Social Work Today: CISWH Executive Director Ellie Zambrano & Kristina Whiton-O’Brien (SSW’95) Urge Social Workers to Promote Civic Health

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Civic health is directly related to physical health. In this op-ed by CISWH Executive Director Ellie Zambrano & Kristina Whiton-O’Brien from VotER, see why social workers should register clients to vote.

Excerpt from “Health Care Social Workers Can Help Patients by Registering Them to Vote” by Ellie Zambrano & Kristina Whiton-O’Brien:

“Research has shown that civic health engagement builds physically healthier communities with higher life expectancies, increased employment rates, improved schools, and revitalized neighborhoods. And it’s correlated with voter participation. In the 2018 New York City mayoral election, East Harlem had a 35% lower voter turnout rate compared with citywide turnout. The life expectancy in East Harlem is decades lower than surrounding voting precincts.

Doctors, nurses, and social workers often see patients who are not only experiencing physical symptoms, but who are also hungry, inadequately housed, or lacking medical coverage or resources to treat their chronic or acute illnesses. Health care workers and health care social workers can directly impact civic health engagement by taking an active role in registering those patients to vote. Increasing voter registration rates increases community connections, involvement in problem-solving, and participation in decision-making. It gives patients a voice in shaping the policies that drive inequities and health disparities.

Voting and civic health engagement are nonpartisan tools providers can use to uplift communities, improve the wellness of all people, and promote community involvement in future decision-making after the devastation of a global pandemic.”

Read the full article here.

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