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Whittier’s Men’s Health Program breaks down barriers to medical care

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Sponsored by Whittier Street Health Center
Whittier’s Men’s Health Program breaks down barriers to medical care
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In order to combat the racial and ethnic disparities in chronic disease seen among African American and Latino men in the Roxbury community, Whittier’s Men’s Health Program (MHP) connects men with a consistent source of primary care and other needed services. Through a holistic array of services, Whittier is able to provide men with physical and mental health services, social services and educational forums to help increase their overall health and well being. Whittier also holds several group sessions in which men come together at Whittier to discuss health topics such as cardiovascular health, cancer, diabetes, mental health, substance abuse and challenges, barriers, successes and strategies for healthy living. Men are also connected to wellness programs offered through Whittier’s Wellness Institute which includes a state-of-the-art fitness club, community garden, stress-reduction programs and nutrition counseling.

Whittier created the Men’s Health Program to break down barriers to access to medical care for African American and Latino men to help them adopt healthy living strategies. Due to historical barriers to access, the African American and Latino male populations have gone without regular medical care at a higher rate than the rest of the population.

Through services at Whittier and referrals to partner organizations, the MHP addresses all of these disparities, and more, through an all-encompassing health and social services program.

Whittier’s partnerships with local social service agencies allow Whittier to track and monitor participants as they access services such as:

  • Transitional, Safe and Affordable Housing
  • Skills Development and Job Training
  • Job Placement
  • Parenting Classes
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Medical Services
  • Screenings
  • Values Training and Health Education Classes

Whittier utilizes case managers to assess the needed services of program participants and to make appropriate referrals. Case managers are also responsible for following up with participants to remind them about appointments for referrals and to track whether participants are keeping these appointments. If participants consistently miss appointments, the case managers work with them to help overcome whatever barriers are causing their inability to keep appointments.

Through these tracking and monitoring systems, Whittier is able to evaluate the effectiveness of the program in reducing disparities in health and chronic conditions and the effectiveness social service referrals.

During Men’s Health Month (June), Whittier is raising awareness about health disparities that affect boys and men of color. And we are also raising the dialogue on efforts to ensure that all men achieve better health outcomes. This June, encourage the men in your lives to take a powerful step towards good health by making healthier food choices, avoiding smoking, staying active, reducing risk for injury and scheduling a check-up.

The health status of racial and ethnic minority men has lagged far too long behind the general population, despite our nation’s vast advances in science, public health and health care. For example:

  • Heart disease is the leading killer across most racial and ethnic minority communities in the United States, accounting for 24 percent of all deaths in 2010.
  • Hispanic men are 30 percent more likely to have a stroke.
  • African American men are 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.
  • Boys of color are less likely to engage in the recommended amount of physical activity each day.
  • African American and Latino boys 6-11 years old are 1.3 times more likely to be obese than white boys of the same age group.

Please join the Whittier’s Men’s Health team at the 16th annual Men’s Health Summit at Whittier Street Health Center on June 25th, 2016 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The theme for this year’s summit is Building Healthier Families One Man at a Time.

This summit is free and open to all. The summit will include a keynote speech, panel discussion, workshops, fitness demonstrations and award presentations to Men’s Health Champions. For more information, please contact Sorel Bertrand at 617 989 3043.

Men’s health disparities source: Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services