Public health officials are forever debating the best way to distribute health information to the public.
Doctors and other medical health professionals are surely a good source, but not all people see a physician.
This issue has plagued public health officials, especially those who are concerned about the gap in health services offered to Black and Hispanic men vs. the general public.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), a 2009 health report showed that men are 80% less likely to have a usual source of health care compared to women.
On top of this, Black and Hispanic men were about 10% less likely to have a usual primary care provider compared to Caucasian men.
The rate of heart disease and chronic liver disease among men is concerning, yet most aren’t getting the help they need early enough.
One creative solution – health care via barber shop.
Barber shops are places where men have traditionally congregated. While they may not visit their doctors, most men will get their hair cut every month and so generally will build a relationship with their barber.
Public health initiatives from organizations like the American Society of Hypertension, New York City’s Arthur Ashe Institute, and the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program have started to utilize this relationship, training barbers across the country in basic health outreach.
Many barbers act as go-betweens, helping their customers locate services that they need.
Some barbers go even further, taking their customers’ blood pressure at each visit in order to ensure they are regularly aware of this vital health measurement.
Other health initiatives, like diabetes screenings, have been run out of barbershop locations, again as a way of bringing the health information to a location where it would have the best chance of being utilized.
Health is precious, and yet many obstacles stand in the way of achieving optimal health.
Poor thyroid function, chronic pain, IBS, obesity, diabetes, and poor nutrition are just a few of these obstacles.
We can’t choose the genes that we’ve inherited, but we can choose how we work with these genes.
With this thought in mind, we have courses looking at these issues from a mind-body medicine perspective.
You can find more information about mindfulness by clicking here.
Have you and your community experimented with other innovative approaches to public health? This issue of outreach is vitally important, so I invite you to leave your ideas.