Putting Your Family’s Health First

Here at Bienestar we care and work hard to support the health and wellbeing of our communities. Some people use the term health interchangeably with wellbeing, yet we believe that wellbeing goes beyond health to encompass all the areas of life that influence our ability to thrive.

Let’s talk about health for a moment since it is a critical component to wellbeing. In fact, physical, mental and emotional health are important building blocks to achieving wellbeing. Working on strengthening each one though may come with its challenges especially since each component of health involves different steps that may not always be clear to our communities.

How would you define physical health?

Most people may define physical health differently based on their understanding or experience with the topic. The actual definition of health according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary states that health is the condition of being well or free from disease or the overall condition of someone’s body or mind [1]. The World Health Organization states that Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity [2]. Yet neither definition offers specifics of how you measure health.

For example, in order to be free from disease, once must eat well, exercise, address mental health needs and

visit their doctor for preventative and/or regular medical services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offers a Roadmap to Health with specifics steps to achieve optimal health. Each step is important yet in order to achieve the first one of putting your health first may require additional steps not explicitly stated in the chart. Some of these steps can include the following:

  • Taking the time to focus on yourself;
  • Knowing what to assess regarding one’s health;
  • Understanding key components of health;
  • Taking a quick self-assessment of your health (i.e. are you eating well, exercising and visiting a doctor regularly?);
  • Determining what could improve, including which area you need to focus on;
  • Making a plan to address those key areas;
  • Finding resources to achieve the plan (including medical, support); and
  • Actualizing your plan.

For Latinos, this might also be layered with what at Urban Strategies we call Family Health & Wellness. Our health is often intertwined with the health and wellbeing of our families. Therefore, making independent choices without the input, buy-in and support of family may not reap the results that many seek for themselves. For that reason, it may be easier to start with Putting the Family First.

Fundamentally, it is about helping families become stronger. It’s about going beyond physical health to ensure that wellness is interwoven into the fabric of a family’s daily life. By addressing each element, we can begin to help a family, and hence an individual, begin to Put Their Family First.

At Urban Strategies, we have begun exploring how best to define family wellness and used SAMSHA’s 8 Dimensions of Wellness [3] as a guide:

  1. Emotional & Mental Health—Helping each member of the family effectively manage and overcome the challenges that life brings—from trauma and loss to crisis, change and life balance.
  2. Safe space—Creating a safe and pleasant, stimulating home that supports well-being.
  3. Financial security—Having the ability to provide for the basic needs of the family without resorting to credit, loans, or other predatory financial means.
  4. Intellectual growth—Supporting the educational, artistic, and cultural activities of members of the family.
  5. Job stability—Obtaining and maintaining a steady employment and positively balancing this with other family responsibilities.
  6. Physical health—Prioritizing the physical needs of the family by planning and eating healthy meals together, spending quality time with each other through physical activity and supporting rest and sleep for all. This should also be supplemented with preventative medical and dental care for all.
  7. Positive relationships—Encouraging and giving space for friendships and connection among peers for each member of the family to develop a sense of belonging outside of the family.
  8. Spiritual development—Providing opportunities for the family to develop and grow in their spiritual beliefs.

One way to address each element is with the utilization of a planning tool like the one provided below. The Care of Family Planning Guide can help you and your family, or the families you work with, develop health and wellness goals that address some or all of the elements described above. The key though is to write it down, display it somewhere where everyone can see it to serve as a reminder of the commitments made to Put Your Family First

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[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/health

[2] http://www.who.int/about/definition/en/print.html

[3] http://www.samhsa.gov/wellness-initiative/eight-dimensions-wellness

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