Education has a significant impact on health.  In our society, the level of education a person has is correlated with their income, social standing, and several indicators of health. Education is important to achieving health literacy, a person’s ability to obtain and process health information.  People who are better educated are more prepared to compete for jobs and secure financial stability, which is important to their physical and mental health.  Unfortunately, Mississippi residents have lower levels of educational attainment on average that the U.S. as a whole.  If we want to close the gap with other U.S. states in health indicators, we need to address some of the deep-seated social issues that account for this gap.  One of these is education.

How We’ll Measure Success

The rate of high school completion is affected by a lot of different factors.  In order to focus more on the specific issue we are targeting, we will monitor the rate of pregnancy among women aged 15 to 19.

Data

  • In a survey of Mississippi residents we conducted, respondents with higher levels of education were more likely to perceive the existence of a broad variety of health services in their communities than those with less education.
  • In 2013, 24.3% of Mississippi respondents with less than a high school education reported having seven or more poor mental health days during the previous month compared to 9.4% of Mississippi respondents with college degrees (BRFSS).
  • During the period from 2008 to 2013, about 20% of Mississippians aged 25 and older had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 29% of U.S. residents (American Community Survey).

Action Steps

One of the primary factors that drives high school students to drop out is teen pregnancy.  While educational attainment at every level is important, the completion of a high school education remains a minimum requirement for entry into multiple professions.  

As a result, we have chosen to focus on high school completion and teen pregnancy as a starting point in our work towards greater educational attainment.  Many of the changes that will result in reduced drop outs from teen pregnancy and other issues such as poor mental health occur at a policy level.  We will be focusing on decreasing teenage pregnancies through more effective information about contraceptive methods, increasing support structures so that teen mothers can complete their educations, and improving the systems that support students who need mental health services.

Get Involved

Inquire at your local school district how students who become pregnant or who encounter mental health issues are supported so that they can complete their educations; join a school health council; advocate for evidence-based sex education in your school district and statewide.

Visit the MSDH Teen Pregnancy Prevention site.