By Shana S. Harper
JA Guest Writer
Do you know which doctor to go to when you are experiencing a health crisis? Minority Health Month is recognized during the month of April, and it serves as an intentional opportunity for you to exercise your right to be informed and proactive. Many know that diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, and heart disease affect BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities more than our white counterparts, but did you know that these are not the only issues that we are conflicted with? Maternal health, infant mortality, and mental health accessibility are areas on the rise over recent years. And in addition to this, environmental stressors such as safe drinking water, access to healthy food options, and more natural disasters impacting mental wellness are on the rise as well. Every community is impacted by some level of adversity, but it is not isolated to the Black community.
Here are some steps towards being intentional about healthy living:
Find the right doctor to visit. Would you go to a foot doctor for an eye injury? Chances are you would not. It is important to choose the right doctor to meet your medical needs. Finding the right primary care physician will save you time, money, and potential complications.
During your appointment, ask your doctor for further explanation or clarification. It is important to be an active participant in your healthcare. This is crucial to achieving the best result possible. Sometimes people think that a question may be dumb, foolish, or make them appear uneducated. These things do not matter when it comes to your health. Do not settle. Speak up. Ask questions. Advocate for yourself.
Reach out to your loved ones for support and guidance. Your loved ones are a part of your community, and they want to see you thrive. They can join you during your doctor’s visit to make sure you get the most out of your consultation.
Know the type of insurance coverage you have. Are you aware if you have a deductible, a copay, coverage for pre-existing conditions, an allotted number of mental health visits, etc.? Do you have Medicaid, Magnolia Health, Affordable Care, or Humana? Is your doctor an approved provider under your insurance? It is good to know exactly what you have to maximize your level of peace when going to the doctor.
How’s your mental well-being? Are you feeling loneliness, depressed, anxious, or not your usual self? Talk to your primary care doctor to rule out any medical issues. Next, you can seek assistance from various trained professionals such as a psychiatrist, licensed professional counselor, licensed social worker, or psychologist that can help you figure things out.
Proverbs 14:30 (NLT) says, “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body…” Start today in being more intentional about your health.
Shana S. Harper, MSSW, is the Outreach & Community Development Director of Be Undefeated Therapeutic Solutions, LLC (www.beundefeatedts.org).