The United Way believes good health is necessary for the Big Bend to thrive. For this reason, we are committed to building a culture where getting healthy, staying healthy, and making sure our kids stay healthy are top priorities. In May 2015, UWBB created its first Health Council. Comprised of health professionals from every medical sector of our community, the council is dedicated to creating solutions for the top three issues identified by our community through our strategic planning process:


Healthy Lifestyles/Education:

Did you know that many chronic diseases are preventable? According to the CDC, chronic diseases account for 75% of total healthcare costs. They are also the most preventable type of disease. Through partnerships with local, state, and other nonprofit entities, we are able to implement programs and initiatives geared towards improving the health of Big Bend residents.

Currently, UWBB is working with the Florida Department of Health in Leon County towards the development and implementation of their County Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). Through this plan, community partners and other organizations will work to develop informed strategies to social determinants of health including:

  • Access to Care
  • Mental Health
  • Economic Instability- including employment and income
  • Education
  • Community safety- including built environments
  • Access to Affordable Housing
Dental Health:

Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable. However, there are thousands of children who go every year with untreated dental decay. Disparities among socio-economic class further add to this concern. The percentage of children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 years with untreated tooth decay is twice as high for those from low-income families compared with children from higher-income households. The UWBB’s SMILE UNITED pediatric dental initiative serves to ensure that children have the access to care they need. Serving all Title I schools in Leon and Gadsden County, SMILE UNITED provides dental assessments, dental cleanings, sealants, oral health instruction, fluoride varnish and oral hygiene kits at no cost to students. Studies have shown that applying dental sealants to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth is a great way to prevent tooth decay. Studies in children show that sealants reduce decay in the permanent molars by 81% for 2 years after they are placed on the tooth and continue to be effective for 4 years after placement[1].

SMILE UNITED 2016-2017:

  • Leon County (2nd – 6th grade only)
    • Students served- 1,003
    • Sealants Placed- 2,492
  • Gadsden County (K-8th grade only)
    • Students Served- 3,175
    • Sealants Placed- 4,725
Mental Health:

Mental Health is a critical part of overall health and wellness. While Medicaid recipients receive the most comprehensive services and access to providers than people with commercial insurance who tend to have fewer providers to choose from, which can cause lengthy waits for care, a large percentage of individuals still remain uninsured due to the non-expansion of Medicaid services throughout Florida. And although advocacy for mental health funding continues, the legislature has not allocated “new” funding for DCF mental health services in approximately 20 years, causing the agency to limit its mental health services for adults with mild to moderate mental illness. The numbers for youth and adolescent mental health care are even more staggering. In Florida, about 146,000 adolescents aged 12-17 per year in 2014 had at least one major depressive episode with only 32.9% of these youth receiving treatment, leaving 67.1% who did not receive treatment for depression[2].Anxiety, stress, and depression lead to an increased number of individuals who report having poor mental health days. Individuals with lower incomes tend to report having more days of poor mental health than those with higher incomes. We also know that access to care and knowing where to find mental health resources contribute to this concern. UWBB is committed to ensuring that individuals and providers have the access to the resources necessary to promote mental health treatment throughout our region. For this reason, we are partnering with 2-1-1 Big Bend and the FSU College of Medicine to create a comprehensive mental health provider database in an effort to eliminate barriers to receiving services and treatment.

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Ahovuo-Saloranta A, Forss H, Walsh T, Hiiri A, Nordblad A, Mäkelä M, Worthington HV. Sealants for preventing dental decay in the permanent teeth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2013; Issue 3. Art. No.: CD001830. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001830.pub4

[2] Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, 2010–2014.