Everyone should have equal access to healthy living resources and lifestyles. Health equity means that no one is disadvantaged from achieving their fullest health potential due to a socially determined circumstance. Income, race, gender, or where someone lives should not determine how healthy they live – or how long they live.

Health equity means everyone has an equal opportunity to lead a healthy life. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, racism, and their consequences, including powerlessness and insufficient access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and healthcare.

Also known as Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds, the Washington County Health Equity Zone (HEZ) is one of 15 HEZs in Rhode Island developed to help remove obstacles to improving Rhode Islanders' quality of life.

Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds is a resident-driven initiative funded by the Rhode Island Department of Health, with Wood River Health as its backbone agency. Its goal is to help Washington County residents collaborate and develop projects, places, and programming to empower residents to live healthy lives. Our work spans across mental health, physical health and the social conditions for good health.

Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds leads evidence-based programs that address a range of mental health and early childhood development topics. The following programs have been extremely successful with improving the health of many individuals and communities.


Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is a community-based approach to improve the outcomes of behavioral health crisis encounters with law enforcement. By collaborating with community partners, CIT aims to provide quality crisis response, reduce trauma, improve communication, and keep people with behavioral health disorders out of the justice system.


Many men are uncomfortable with emotional and mental health topics. Man Therapy brings humor and a friendly point of view to helping men take care of themselves and their challenges. Learn more about Man Therapy and consider taking the 20 Point Head Inspection.


The Zero Suicide and QPR programs teach specific skills and actions that are proven to help prevent suicide.

Zero Suicide is a multi-partner effort to bring both families and “systems” together on behalf of individuals at risk. Among other goals, Zero Suicide seeks to:

Zero Suicide is also dedicated to compiling and sharing local and national resources with families.

QPR is a 90-minute training that will help you learn how recognize the warning signs of suicide and how to “Q”uestion someone about potential suicidal thoughts; “P”ersuade them to seek help, and “R”efer them for professional assistance.

What happens in very early childhood may set the stage for everything that follows: whether a child is physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively healthy throughout his or her childhood and adulthood. Yet, coordinated efforts to identify problems and promote wellness often don’t start until a child reaches school.

Project LAUNCH
(Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) addresses that imbalance. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), a federal agency, established the project in 2008 to promote the health and well being of children from birth to age 8.


For many, access to healthy food is a problem. If you don’t have a car in South County, you have a fifty percent chance of living in a “food desert”. Even if you have a car, can you easily find fresh, nutritious, and affordable food? Our farms in South County are a big asset. And with the farms come delicious farmers markets.

In an earlier initiative, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds connected low-income individuals and families to the region’s farmers markets. There were problems to overcome: transportation, unfamiliarity with both markets and some of the fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meats that might be offered.


If someone were having a heart attack, you would know what to do: perform CPR and call 9-1-1. But what if someone is experiencing a panic attack, having suicidal thoughts, or showing signs of substance abuse? Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course designed to help you respond in these situations.

This groundbreaking 8-hour training course takes the fear and hesitation out of starting conversations about mental health and substance abuse. The course will give you the tools you need to identify when someone might be struggling with a mental health or substance use problem and connect them with appropriate support and resources when necessary.


Reach Out and Read,
a national phenomenon, and our local partner Reach Out and Read Rhode Island (RORRI) take pediatricians at their word. Relying on donor contributions to buy books, they encourage pediatricians to distribute the books – with wise advice about reading – at well-child checkups.


5-2-1-0 is a simple equation for a healthy lifestyle that helps children reach and keep an appropriate weight. It has specific guidance for eating, screen time, physical activity and more. We support partner organizations with toolkits, curricula for all grades, recommended activities and much more.