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Welcome to Crash Course Public Health! Over the next 10 episodes, we’re going to unpack what public health is, who does public health work, and why thinking about it is so important! Public Health is so much more than just washing your hands, adhering to smoking laws, or wearing your seatbelt -- although it is those things too. Broadly, public health is an approach to preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health for everyone. So over the course of this series, we'll show you the many ways the story of your health isn’t just about you, and how it’s about so much other stuff like the social, economic, and environmental conditions that impact all of us.

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CC Kids:
Is your health…yours?

Well in a lot of ways, yeah! Our health is a story about our bodies, our habits, and our choices.

But like with any good story, the more attention you pay, the more complex and interesting the story becomes. It turns out that the story of your health isn’t just about you. It’s actually about a bunch of other stuff, too.

It’s the story of the social, economic, and environmental conditions that make up our lives. It’s the story of people collaborating across continents and over the course of generations to build a healthier world. It’s the story of a changing climate, social justice movements, and even the Internet!  Public health experts take all of this into consideration to build a richly thought-out world that works to improve our health -- sometimes in pretty cool and surprising ways!

Hi, I’m Vanessa Hill. Welcome to Crash Course Public Health! You might know me from YouTube, from my channel BrainCraft.

I like to take an experimental approach to content exploring our health and wellbeing – like investigating why crystal healing exists, or creating a bedtime procrastination hotline. Over the years, I’ve made documentaries about topics like designer DNA, and what algorithms do to our attention and emotions. Though my biggest experiment to date was a Hollywood reality show about improving your sleep with the latest sleep techniques and technology.  The comments on this show highlighted one thing – it’s really hard to actually change your behavior to be more healthy.  Heaps of viewers asked questions like: How do I actually stop using my phone in bed?

Or, How do I stop procrastinating my bedtime? And I couldn’t answer them, because in all of the scientific literature there were no answers. And this bothered me.   So in what is an extremely unlikely career segue, I went from being the executive producer of a Hollywood reality show to a sleep researcher.

My research investigates the best behavior change techniques for improving your sleep, and how we can better communicate with people about their health. Which means less of me pretending to be a scientist on TV and more of me actually being a scientist in real life.  It’s not the hottest take of all time, but I believe that everyone deserves the right to live their healthiest possible life. In fact, I believe that health is a human right.

And that’s the public health mission! More specifically, public health is an approach to preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health for everyone. Public health experts do this work by looking at the big picture to address health across entire populations.

To do this, they collaborate with experts in tons of other fields, including sociology, statistics, politics, environmental science – and a lot more. But we often don’t notice public health at work around us. Because much like our own health, we’re usually better at noticing when public health isn’t working than when it is.

But once you start to notice public health at work, it’s hard to stop noticing all the places where it’s working. Over the next 10 episodes, we’re going to unpack what public health is, who does public health work, and why thinking about it is so important! We’re also going to deep dive into health equity to address some big questions about how things like identity and stigma interact with our health…like, why is it that Black women’s bodies are literally aging faster than White women's bodies?   We’ll answer that question and more, and we’ll also do some traveling!

We’ll travel back to the Middle Ages when the English word “health” first bubbled up, to a historic typhus outbreak in 19th century Silesia, to the fictional land of Vanessa-City. We can’t wait to share this series with you! Thanks for watching this episode of Crash Course Public Health, which was produced by Complexly in partnership with the American Public Health Association.

If you want to learn even more about Public Health, head over to APHA’s YouTube channel to watch “That’s Public Health” a series created by APHA and Complexly.   Crash Course was filmed in the Castle Geraghty studio in Indianapolis, IN, and made with the help of all these awesome people. If you'd like to help keep Crash Course free for everyone forever please consider joining our community of supporters on Patreon.