Building Healthy Communities Sample Discussion

Building Healthy Communities Sample Discussion


Community assessment can be defined as the process of identifying the strengths, assets, needs and challenges of a specific community. Community assessment is categorized into community surveys, key informant interviews, focus groups and community forums (Wu, 2019). The whole community assessment process entails various components. It is critical to organize and plan adequately. This is followed by community engagement, development of a goal or a vision, conducting the assessment while prioritizing health issues. Development of a community health improvement plan followed by evaluation of the whole process and results are also key steps.

A community assessment provides key stakeholders with comprehensive information and data regarding the community’s health status, needs, requirements and issues. This information is critical in the development of a community health improvement plan as it guides the allocation of funds and other resources that are vital in meeting community health needs (Jones et al., 2018). The reason I am conducting this community assessment is to understand the impact of depression among teens and adolescents and to enable the formulation of programs and interventions aimed at addressing the issues. This essay involves assessment of the community to determine the impact of social determinants on the overall health of the community.

Impact of Social Determinants on Health.

Social determinants of health can be termed as the environmental conditions where an individual is born, lives, works and thrives that greatly impact the individual’s health and overall well-being. Social determinants of health can be broadly classified into five major domains. These include economic stability, access and quality of education, access and quality of health care, the immediate neighbourhood and social and community context (Palmer et al., 2019).

Social determinants of health greatly affect an individual’s health, overall well-being and quality of life. Social determinants greatly contribute to differences and inequities in health care. Simply promoting healthy lifestyle choices will not do much in addressing health disparities. Public health organizations are therefore, tasked with the responsibility of improving the general conditions of people’s environments (Donkin et al., 2017). Healthy people 2030 aims at the creation of an environment that promotes the attainment of the full potential for health and well-being for each and every individual.

Health Problem Under Investigation.

Depression, also termed as major depressive disorder is a mood disorder that is normally characterized by a constant feeling of sadness and or lack of interest in life and activities that were previously pleasurable. Depression manifests as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, outbursts of anger, irritability, sleep disorders and loss of interest in previously stimulating activities (Malhi & Mann, 2018). Depression in adolescents and teenagers has mostly been attributed to factors that negatively impact self-esteem and self-acceptance such as obesity, bullying, physical and sexual assault and academic woes.

Depression in teenagers is a serious condition that has far reaching consequences and requires long-term management and treatment. Apart from the normal expected emotional changes, depression in teenagers also manifests with behavioral changes (Miller & Campo, 2021). Drug and alcohol use, appetite changes, social isolation, thoughts of self-harm and suicide are some of the behavioral changes observed. Physical illness can also result in depression and it is therefore important to seek medical help as soon as the symptoms manifest.

Information Gathered on the Topic.

Depression is particularly high in adolescents and teenagers aged twelve to seventeen years. Prevalence of depression was higher in adolescents from low-income backgrounds as compared to their counterparts from high-income families. Children who had experienced traumatic childhood experiences also tended to report a higher prevalence of depression. The centre for disease control and prevention estimated that about 3.2% of children aged three years to seventeen suffer from depression (Lu, 2019). This rate was particularly higher in teens as compared to young children. In Florida, research done between 2013 and 2014 showed that about 146,000 adolescents, translating to approximately 10.5% of all adolescents, experienced at least one episode of depression within the year.

Community Under Investigation.


Pahokee is a city that is located on the shore of Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. The city’s geographical coordinates are 26 degrees 49’11” North, 80 degrees 39’ 56” West


            The environment within Pahokee can be described as a harsh environment. The city comprises majorly of African Americans who are mostly a low-income community. Each and every year, residents of Pahokee experience what is termed as the fall of “black snow”. This is as a result of the burning of sugar cane fields that is common before harvesting. This resultant pollution greatly affects a majority of the population and has been attributed with asthma, respiratory illnesses and other immune system illnesses within the community. The sugar industry also causes major pollution of the local water sources (Yoder et al., 2020), including Lake Okeechobee, resulting in decreased access to clean water, affecting marine life and lowering the value of property in Pahokee. Other environmentally friendly methods of sugar harvesting have been suggested but the prominent sugar company remains adamant. This has resulted in increased levels of childhood asthma, COPD, cancer and other ailments as a result of the continued pollution.


The city of Pahokee occupies an estimated area of 5.32 square miles (13.77 square kilometres).


            Pahokee, Florida averages approximately 51 inches of rain each year. This is higher than the United States’ annual average which stands at 38 inches of rainfall each year. The region averages zero inches of snow annually with the nation averaging 28 inches of snow per year. There are approximately 239 sunny days experienced each year in Pahokee (Palm & Bolsen, 2020). This is higher than the national average which stands at 205 days. Pahokee experiences around 110 days of precipitation on average annually. The highest temperature is experienced in July and is around 92 degrees with lows of approximately 52 degrees being experienced in January.


            The city of Pahokee was initially known as East Beach and later Ridgeway Beach with Pahokee being adopted from the Seminole name for the Everglades, Pay-ha-o-kee, which means grassy waters. Much of Pahokee was initially owned by the State of Florida or the Southern States Land and Timber Company (Henry et al., 2021). The two often allowed farmers to work the fields without requiring purchase or rent payments. In 1915, a celery grower named B.A. Howard purchased about 400 acres and set up Pahokee Realty Company with the aim of selling the land in parcels.

In 1917, a frost destroyed crops throughout majority of Florida. A high ridge located in what is today downtown Pahokee shielded majority of the farms from the elements. News that vegetable fields in Pahokee had survived the frost coupled with the opening of the West Palm Beach Canal in the same year resulted to migration of many farmers into Pahokee. The Pahokee Drainage District was set up in 1922 and the City of Pahokee incorporated that same year. By the year 1930, the city of Pahokee had an estimated two thousand residents and it greatly thrived throughout the 1930s.


            The city of Pahokee had a population of 6,327 people in 2020. It is the 209th largest city in Florida and the 4198th largest in the United States. The annual population growth rate is 0.09 percent with an increase of 12 percent in population from the most recent population census conducted in 2010 where the population was 5,649. The population density is approximately 1,190 people per square mile (Melix et al., 2020). The poverty rate is 37.82% with an average household income of $39,519. Majority of the people residing in Pahokee are African Americans accounting for about 62.63% of the total population. Whites comprise about 30.52% of the total population with other races making up 6.40% of the total population.

Population Under Investigation.


Data available showed that approximately 13% of the total population lies between the ages of  5 and 13 years. This is about eight hundred individuals. Most of these people meet the criteria for out investigation of depression among teenagers and adolescents.


            The approximate population density of adolescents and teenagers is 160 people per square mile.

Demographic structure.

About 9% of the population is five years and below. Our target population aged between 5 and 17 makes up about 13% of the population. Residents aged 75 years and above make up slightly above 4% of the total population (Melix et al., 2020). A study conducted in 2018 showed that the average age of all residents of Pahokee was 35 years.



Pahokee is a city situated on the shore of Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. It is located at latitude 26 degrees 49’17.39” N and longitude -80 degrees 39’20.99” W.

Housing and Zoning.

            Pahokee Housing Authority, Inc. Comprises of five Public Housing Developments. These include Fremd Village, McClure Village, McClure Annex, Padgett Island, Isles of Pahokee II. These properties are governed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD’s) rules and regulations (Allison, 2020). The main goal is to maintain a safe and healthy living environment for families and children residing in Pahokee.

Open Space.

Pahokee State Park is one of the open spaces available in the city of Pahokee and is situated near Belle Glade, Clewiston and Loxahatchee.


            The commons in Pahokee include Florida State Road 729, Pahokee High School and St. Mary’s Catholic Church.


Approximately 80% of the residents are vehicle drivers with majority choosing to drive alone. The busiest time on the roads is between 7:00am and 7:30am. Driving cars, vans and trucks was the commonest mode of transport that was used by about one 1300 residents. About 50 residents walked with about 22 opting to use other means of transportation.

Social Service Centres.

            The Pahokee Center located at 170 S. Barfield Highway, Suite 101 provides various service including pediatric services, adult primary care, behavioral health, infectious disease among other services. It has several trained professionals who provide the necessary services. The centre can be reached via telephone at any time of the day or night.


            There are several stores in and around Pahokee that provide the necessary daily commodities at fairly affordable prices.


            There are several adoption shelters for animals in the city of Pahokee. Several organizations also provide animal control services for animals including iguanas, armadillos, squirrels, raccoons among others.

Condition of the Area.

93% of all individuals are from low-income families. Pahokee is a neighbourhood that has high incidences of crime. The region is also prone to frequent hurricanes which pose a threat to the local community.


            About 37.2% of the residents of Pahokee are religious individuals. Majority of the individuals are Catholics accounting for about 16.6% of all religious people. Various other denominations are represented in Pahokee with a small number of Muslims also present.

Health Indicators.

            There are 254 physicians for every 100,000 residents in Pahokee. This is higher than the current national average which is about 210 physicians per 100,000 people. The annual health cost index stands at 96.3, lower than the national average of 100. The annual water quality index is 30, again below the US average of 55.


            Pahokee is a somewhat a liberal society. During the most recent presidential election, approximately 56% of the eligible voters voted Democrats while 43.3% voted for the Republican Party. 0.8% voted independently (Rich, 2019). This trend where Democrats gather more votes has been observed since they year 2000.


            There are several media outlets within the city of Pahokee. Some of the major outlets include Talk 4 Media, FaceDown Media Magazine, CRD Media among others.

Business and Industry.

Unemployment in the city of Pahokee exceeds 25%. The major sugar plant that had been established in 1963 was closed in 2009. There are several other small business and establishments owned by the local community.

Overall Impression of the Community.

The constant exposure to pollution from what is termed as “black snow” from burning of the sugar cane fields greatly undermines the overall health of the residents of Pahokee. Despite other netter alternatives, responsible companies have insisted with continuous burning is what is now termed as economic racism. This has resulted in increased occurrence of respiratory illnesses such as asthma, COPD and other illness such as cancer and diseases affecting the overall immune system.

Poverty and unemployment are also rampant in the city of Pahokee. Employment rates exceed 25% with majority of the population being low income families. Such factors greatly bring about disparities in health care. Low literacy levels among the individuals also greatly impact the overall health of the community. Statistics show that about 36% of students achieved proficiency in reading and language arts which is lower than the Florida state average of 56%. They further contribute to disparities in seeking health care and other health related services.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Community.

One of the strengths is the availability of Pahokee Center which provides various social services. The centre provides pediatric services, adult primary care, behavioral health, infectious disease, laboratory, care management and other services. The centre has several licensed practitioners and health care workers tasked with the responsibility of providing services to the community. This contributes to improved health care services among the residents of Pahokee.

Lack of clean water resulting from pollution of the local water sources greatly undermines the overall health of the community. Low income, high unemployment rates and high illiteracy levels also greatly undermine the overall health care seeking culture. These factors greatly undermine the overall health of the residents of Pahokee by predisposing them to diseases while also limiting health care seeking services.

Well-being of the Population.

About 46% of the residents of Pahokee report that they consume a healthy diet. Most of the residents consume at least three meals each day, most of which are prepared in fast food joints and grocery stores. 44% of the residents are obese with approximately 55% reporting that they were obese at one particular point in time (Kirk Wiese et al., 2018). A certain percentage of the population has at one point experimented with drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and other hard drugs. 11% of the population have been informed by a health professional that they have diabetes with 3% of the population currently on insulin. 30% of the population especially those above 18 years and older have been diagnosed with depression or feelings of hopelessness.

Safety of the Community.

The crime rate in Pahokee is 41.60 per 1000 residents on average each year. The northwest part of the city seems to be relatively safer when compared to other parts of the city. In the south neighbourhoods, the probability of becoming a victim of crime is about 1 in 16 (Lewis & Rodesiler, 2020). This is much lower in the northwest part of the city where the probability is 1 in 35. Violent crime incidence rate is 54.4 which is almost double the national average of 22.7. Pahokee property crime rate stands at 42.6. This is also higher than the United States average of 35.4. Other crimes witnessed in this region include rape, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, rape and murder. The city is also a high hurricane risk area.

Social Determinants Affecting Health.

High crime rates observed in the city of Pahokee greatly impact the mental health of teenagers and adolescents. People who are victims of violent crimes such as physical and sexual assault tend to have lower mental health and well-being (Smith et al., 2021). Observing and being victims of such crimes greatly impairs the self-esteem of individuals consequently affecting their mental health. Traumatic events such as the loss of loved ones to violent crimes may also trigger depression that has far reaching consequences.

Low income levels are also associated with several mental disorders and attempts of self-harm and suicide. Low income resulting from factors such as unemployment greatly contributes to stressors such as insecurity in food, housing and income. These stressors consequently trigger mental health complications such as depression and may exacerbate the use of drugs and other substances (Roddy et al., 2020). Stressors can also contribute to neglect from parents and guardians which also greatly impacts the mental health of both teenagers and adolescents.

Low literacy levels also greatly contribute to mental health deterioration and conditions such as depression. Illiteracy greatly hinders access to education, knowledge and other services aimed at mental health improvement (Clark et al., 2020). Inability to read and write also leads to lowered self-esteem and withdrawal from participation in social events. This lowered sense of self-esteem and isolation triggers mental health conditions such as depression which is particularly rampant in teenagers and adolescents.


Social determinants greatly affect an individual’s general health and overall well-being (Magnan, 2017). Depression is a common condition witnessed among teenagers and adolescents. The condition is triggered by several factors and presents mostly with a feeling of hopelessness and loss of interest in life. A research of the city of Pahokee identified several inequities such as low literacy levels, unemployment and low income and high crime rates. These factors greatly affect the general well-being of the residents of Pahokee and can be directly attributed to the causation of mental health problems observed among teenagers and adolescents


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