Basic Needs for Health and Safety

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Fulfilling people’s cultural, linguistic, psychological, behavioral, and safety needs contributes to happy, healthy, and thriving lives. Physical and mental well-being starts with access to fresh air and water, nutritious food, and a stable home. People also need healthy relationships — with freedom to express their gender and sexuality — and a life free from violence, injury, and toxic stress. When these basic needs are satisfied, people across the lifespan can thrive, adapt, and recover from adversity, trauma, loss, and change.   

Communities are experts at understanding their own needs and identifying the best ways to support residents. This is why a co-leadership model with communities and federal agencies is key to equitably addressing basic needs and achieving well-being for all.   

Basic Needs for Health and Safety include:  

  • Freedom from trauma, violence, and addiction  
  • Nutritious food and safe water  
  • Physical and mental health  
  • Routine physical activity  
  • Fresh air  
  • Sexuality and reproductive health  
  • Sufficient sleep

Key Statistics

  • 45 million people — including 15 million children — didn’t have access to enough food in 2020.
  • As of 2021, different racial and ethnic groups were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 hospitalization — compared with White people, the hospitalization rate was 3.5 times higher for American Indian and Alaska Native people, 2.8 times higher for Black people, and 2.8 times higher for Hispanic people.
  • 1 in 5 U.S. children ages 3 to 17 years had a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder in 2020.