It seems like many of my discussions these days revolve around the changing climate of our great Nation. Two of the most pressing issues revolve around the Affordable Care Act (or “Obama Care” as we have fondly come to know it) and Welfare, the assistance programs for disadvantaged groups and how these two issues collide. It is estimated that 44 million Americans are uninsured with another 38 million reported to be underinsured. Now take into account that the US Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Commerce, and the CATO Institute are reporting that nearly 13 million Americans are on Welfare, with nearly 47 million receiving food stamps and to punctuate the pervasive nature of poverty; Welfare spending now exceeds $131 billion annually. A bleak picture that begs for a solution, right?
Step away from these staggering statistics and it seems that these discussions have less to do with politics and more to do with a real fear of uncertainty faced by the American public. Many, if not all of us know families that have been devastated by these difficult economic times. Turn on any television news channel to witness the onslaught of social service programs begging for additional assistance. What about food pantries relaying stories of near empty shelves yet capacity crowds lined up for assistance. Even more heart wrenching are seniors plagued with the decision to pay for either prescription medication or rent or maybe the homeless veterans seen nourishing themselves from garbage cans, after having served this great Nation of ours. Further imagine the resources of public schools that are being tasked with social services BEFORE the school day even starts and before the primary role of education…only to help the sweet young lady covered with bed bugs, through no fault of her own, yet render her unable to return to class. Imagine her mother trying to fight the slumlord apartment owner who refuses to assist knowing she is barely scraping by. I can go on. Dan and I have witnessed or been told stories like this every day.
As an individual deeply immersed in the field of health psychology, I spend a lot of my time counseling patients and healthcare professionals alike about the link between the biological, psychological and social aspects of health and wellness. The biopsychosocial approach to healthcare is gaining significant attention these days and rightfully so. Growing trends within the medical field, including, mental and physical health are being combined to create multidisciplinary approaches to address these influences on healthcare. Today, more patients are being seen in their entirety. The environments they live and work, their socioeconomic status, their ethnic and cultural beliefs, sexual orientation, relationship status, their social supports, or lack there of, etc are being deemed as critical pieces of the health and wellness puzzle. These issues and many others are indicators that often spell poor outcomes in patients if not addressed. We have a battle to fight in our own back yard. So for today, do you part. Take into account the importance of your environment. Ask yourself, are you contributing to a productive safe environment for yourself and your family? If so, perfect…lives will be changed because of attitudes like yours. If not…be accountable. Leaving a footprint today will change a life tomorrow…Are you in?
Until next week…