Rhode Islanders and Health

Chronic illness and access to preventive medical and mental health care continues to be a pressing issue for many Rhode Islanders. Nearly 13% of Rhode Island’s families experience consistent food insecurity, meaning that they cannot access and/or afford enough food to provide three meals a day. Health and well-being can be greatly impacted by complex social factors, factors depicted in the many facets of this data dashboard along with many not included. These complex social and physical factors can combine to challenge our community’s ability to thrive.

The Health of Rhode Island’s Children

Chronic health conditions like obesity, asthma, and lead poisoning are deeply influenced, if not caused by, exposure to antiquated, unhealthy housing stock and zoning laws, along with elevated rent and housing costs that prevents families from being able to relocate to healthier, safer housing. Such factors also have a profound impact on children’s mental health. As noted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, adverse childhood experiences and chronic toxic levels of stress such as chronic illness, income instability, housing instability, divorce, and domestic violence is shown to increase chronic health conditions both in the short (i.e. asthma, obesity, diabetes) and the long (cancer, heart disease, stroke) term. Each and all of these issues intersect to impact not only long-term health and well-being, but also cognitive and neurological function, educational attainment, and earning capacity.

Adverse Childhood Experiences Pyramid