Dr. Creshelle Nash
We may think we know everything about taking good care of ourselves, but taking good care of others is also essential to maintaining whole person health. For me, taking good care comes in many forms. I can be taking good care of my body and my physical strength by showing up to my cardio boxing class. I can take good care of my brain health by learning new skills, like knitting, learning Spanish, and other DIY home projects. Knowing that my loved ones are safe and taken care of is also important. To me, taking good care is mental, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual.
The phrase ‘Take Good Care’ may mean different things to different Arkansans, but at the heart of it is knowing that our health and our peace of mind are prioritized. It is perseverance to overcome our own health challenges, and comradery in supporting those around us when the community is in need. It is also a commitment to embracing that we cannot do it all alone. We can take care of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities all while knowing others have our backs too. It is this belief that drives all the work I do, because I know the power of healthier people growing healthier communities.
Ways to Support Community Health
As we take care of ourselves and achieve better health outcomes for our communities, I invite you to consider four areas to focus your efforts:
During the height of the pandemic, studies estimated that 37.8% of adults in Arkansas reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder. That is more than a third of Arkansas adults who are suffering, but there is no need to do it alone. We hope that by Normalizing the Conversation, more Arkansans will overcome the stigmas that deter people from receiving the help they need. Arkansas Blue Cross has partnered with UAMS to ensure all Arkansans have access to a mental health professional or counselor. AR ConnectNow is a comprehensive behavioral health treatment program created to provide care to all Arkansans dealing with a variety of mental health issues, from substance use disorders to stress, grief or anxiety. If you know someone who may be struggling, I encourage you to listen to and acknowledge what your loved ones are going through. It is easy to judge and make assumptions about people’s lives and compare struggles. However, a powerful partnership is created when people reach out for help and are met with someone who listens and supports with an open mind. Our whole person approach to healthcare recognizes that taking good care of our mental health is just as important as our physical health.
Staying physically active is a key indicator of better health outcomes. While it can be daunting to think about a daily exercise routine, it is easier than you think to incorporate smaller bursts of healthy – heart rate elevating – activity into your day. You can increase your step count by choosing to take the stairs rather than the elevator. Choose to wash your car at home rather than sitting through the drive thru. Maybe even shoot some hoops in the driveway with your children. As my colleague Kristen Lippencott writes, “make exercise fit your life, not the other way around.”When we embrace our physical health, things will begin to change in our communities and shared spaces. That is why Arkansas Blue Cross is fostering safe community spaces for Arkansans to live, work and play. Most recently, we built the new Northwest Arkansas Corporate Center in Springdale with an in-house employee fitness center, and a scenic outdoor pavilion area available to employees and nonprofit community groups for events. When we build spaces with our communities in mind, we make intentional choices to take good care of the health of our people.
It is estimated that 80-90% of healthcare happens outside the walls of the clinic. That means our ability to be healthy relies on social, environmental, and other factors. Understanding these factors, described as the “social determinants of health,” is one key area health organizations and communities alike can embrace to improve health outcomes. Sometimes non-medical supports are the glue that binds a treatment together. For example, a doctor may prescribe a medication to treat an infection, but without language services or translators on staff, the patient, whose first language is not English, may not be able to successfully follow through on the intended treatment plan. Simply linking the community to resources through community health workers can bridge the gap between the community and the healthcare system to make care more localized and more effective. Thinking outside of the clinical box is how companies like Arkansas Blue Cross can support our whole person health and take good care of our communities. We can also take good care of ourselves and our communities by making sure those closest to us are supported too. From checking in on our friends, to reaching out to our church networks for caregiving support, you may find that others are going through the same challenges you face. We are all in this together. Spending quality time with those I love is nourishing to my soul, and relying on that connection and support is crucial for wellbeing.
When we prioritize emotional health, we give everyone the same opportunity to feel safe and protected from harm. There are many things that cause trauma, like losing a loved one, a news cycle filled with violence, war and environmental disasters, or systemic discrimination. We must acknowledge that our experience with health can differ based on our race, ethnicity, geography, and other factors. We will continue to strive for our best personal health, and that of our community, but we cannot truly be healthy until we recognize the disparities and find ways to take collective action to overcome inequity.By encouraging youth in communities of color to be interested in the medical field and succeed at all levels of their academic career, we can nurture and enhance the health of our communities. This investment not only leads to healthier, happier people, but it just may go on to boost the number of Black, Hispanic, and other minority populations in the medical field. When the medical field better represents the communities it serves, we can move one step closer to a thriving system where everyone feels seen.
How We Support Our Members
At Arkansas Blue Cross, we have dedicated the past 70 years to the well-being of every Arkansan and are proud to be our members’ champions. Our heartfelt hope is that you will give yourself and those you love all you need to stay healthy, happy, and well. And we hope you will choose us as your partner, so we can all take good care of ourselves and each other our whole life long.
Take good care, Arkansas.