What do you think of when someone mentions public health? Do you think about diseases or washing your hands? Obviously, these things are important. But there is also a larger concern that involves us as citizens, us as communicators, and us as inhabitants of the world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the environment, as it relates to health, as, “All the physical, chemical and biological factors external to a person, and all the related behaviors.” Public health relating to the environment could range from a poor community living near a polluting factory to people finding rat droppings in their home. There may seem like a big gap between the two experiences, but communicators must remember that it still affects all the people involved. Where we live is our habitat and negative environmental factors can affect not only physical health but mental health as well.
When communicating about the environment in relation to public health, there are major considerations that the communicator must keep in mind. First you must use credible resources. Fact checking and making sure your statistics are correct are the centerfold of communication. If what you write is incorrect, it could not only negatively affect the well-being of your audience, but also your reputation as a communicator.
Also, when writing or recording, to make the information more digestible, put it in a pyramid style. Start with the most important information, such as how and where people are being affected and how they can get help. Add extraneous details and other information later. Imagine if there was a flood from a dam breaking in your area but you had to read to the end of a two-page long report to know if it would affect you.
Communicators are the link between people and the problems in the environment, but it can be a difficult subject to discuss because of the dangerous implications of environmental health as well as perceived charged political implications. In order to communicate about health regarding the environment it is important to keep these factors in mind. As communicators we have the duty of relaying information to our audience to improve their quality of life and inform them about their environment and how it affects them.