WHOLE PERSON CENTERED SOCIO-POLITICAL POLICIES
The Whole Person-Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model recognizes socio-political issues and policies that must also be addressed to promote optimal health and wellness. At minimum, Whole Person-Centered Optimal Health & Wellness applications should include statements pertaining to the following, and support or collaborate with organizations that focus on such items:
Healthcare System Payment Model Reforms
Universal health care or single payer health care systems in which tax dollars provide for unlimited treatment to ensure the best health outcomes. These systems remove the middle financiers and establish health care and wellness as fundamental human rights. Further, these systems can ensure all practices, including preventative, therapeutic and complementary, are available to all people. They ensure benefits for children and the elderly, as well as for working class people, alike. Unlimited access to care, without denials, and regardless of employment status, income, cultural affiliation or geographic location, is critical to optimal health and well-being. This includes not only physical health, but mental, emotional, dental and vision health as well.
Eradicating Racism & Discrimination and Promoting Equity & Cultural Inclusion
The Whole Person-Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model supports efforts to promote equity and inclusion for all people, including but not limited to, racial equality, equity and inclusion, LGBTQ+ people, transgender specific communities, women, people of all ages, people of all physical, mental and emotional abilities, people of all national origins, people who speak or utilize diverse languages, people with various religious beliefs, people with various cultural backgrounds and all ethnic diversity, specifically including indigenous peoples.
The Whole Person-Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model promotes the creation of safe, inclusive spaces where individuals can receive the physical and mental health care, including emotional, dental and vision care, they need by professionals who understand and/or can relate to their own lived experiences. I Am Well denounces white supremacy, as well as other forms of cultural or biological supremacy.
Reproductive and Family Rights
The Whole Person-Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model recognizes consenting adults have the right to form families of their own choosing, and that support of pregnant women in their optimal health and well-being includes access to fully informed decisions and interventions, including access to options such as adoption and foster care.
Abortion – The Whole Person Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model was developed by a Task Force whose members come from a broad background of health and mental health professions. All members were tasked with considering the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of abortion. Members presented a wide variety of proposals regarding abortion ranging from completely unrestricted access to access only when the life of the mother is in danger, as well as a variety of limitations in between (i.e., only in the case of rape or incest). Ultimately, when considering the “whole person” approach, the Task Force did not come to an agreement. We did not agree there is a right or wrong.
All options should include physical, mental and emotional supports as part of routine follow up care.
Economic System Reforms
The Whole Person Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model recognizes the current economic system can have a detrimental impact on the physical, mental and emotional health and well-being of individuals and families, and supports efforts to improve the economic system, including, but not limited to, efforts such as universal basic income for all people.
The Whole Person Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model recognizes workplace conditions can impact overall health and well-being. We also acknowledge flexibility of work hours can increase worker happiness and effectiveness. The Whole Person Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model supports efforts to promote six (6) to eight (8) hour work days, which includes the ability to have full, uninterrupted breaks, restroom time and mealtimes (on or off-campus). Natural break settings away from others should be available when possible. Break rooms should offer quiet spaces, as well as information or tools for rejuvenation such as information for stress reduction, recliners, diffusers, or sound machines, etc. Staffing should be made available to ensure appropriate breaks and relief.
Worker pay should always be commensurate with education, experience and living wages, and full-time workers should never be “working poor”, or need to have more than one job to meet their basic needs. Outside of shifts and hours, fringe benefits should include mental health/self-care days, and undefined paid-time-off (PTO). For example, employees should receive 160 hours of PTO annually, rather than 80 “vacation hours” and 80 “sick hours”. Tuition assistance or reimbursement, paid maternity/paternity, family and medical leave–including for newborns, as well as adoptive and foster children, and elder care. Campus-based services, such as child/adult care facilities, should also be provided whenever possible.
The Whole Person Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model recognizes that access to sunlight, clean air, water, and natural settings are critical to optimal health and well-being. The Whole Person Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model supports protecting the environment, climate and natural resources towards that end.
Health Literacy & Service Navigation
The Whole Person Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model recognizes all people process information differently. In light of this, the Whole Person Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model supports efforts that promote teaching and guiding people how to vet scientific, reliable and expert guided information, while learning how to discard inaccurate information. Whenever possible, the Whole Person Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model supports the utilization of paid or volunteer care translators, advocates and patient navigators who can help someone through addressing health crisis on a personal level, to include guidance and absorption of information. This includes helping patients understand medical terminology, their choices, and the potential outcomes of their choices. Whenever possible, these volunteers or paid professionals should be independent from care facilities to avoid conflicts of interest. In addition, these liaisons should specifically focus on guiding patients through the continuum of care, particularly in matters of inpatient, outpatient and follow up care.
The Whole Person Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model recognizes the importance of distinction between personal and public health. While health care generally looks at the individual, public health views the entire community as the patient, often looking at populations, trends, patterns and access to health care in communities overall. Public health focuses on disease prevention and control, looking at trends, and how to create change via researching the bigger picture.
Public health is about trying to provide an environment to create the most opportunity for health for the community as whole, while ensuring health equity and equal opportunities. Public health researches, assesses and focuses on the social determinants of health, including city planning, urban planning, housing, food deserts, accessible transportation, exposure to healthy, fresh foods, and even smoking and behavioral habits of the community. Assessments might also include neighborhood safety, educational opportunities, and the ability for individuals to advance their careers within their communities. Tracking of vaccines, vaccination rates, and maternal and child health services all fall under the auspices of public health as well.
In times of crisis, public health may focus on the importance of self-preparedness and triage for sicker or more vulnerable populations, while ordinary times may allow for public health facilities to focus on providing exposure to healthier options (i.e. more exposure to tobacco products produces a higher likelihood of smoking and exposure to choices with poor health outcomes increases risk overall). Public health may also focus on the built, natural and social environments, measuring their impacts on accessibility and chronic diseases. This can include issues as far reaching as walkability and bike lanes, to placement of factories and chemicals within the city limits.
Whether in crisis or more stable times, public health organizations are called upon to measure the resilience of the community, and ensuring the community itself can define, reach and/or restore its own optimal health and well-being as a whole. For example, if there is only one hospital in town, public health might be called upon the ensure a continuity of care in the event the hospital is damaged.
The Whole Person Centered Optimal Health & Wellness Model promotes the key role of public health in optimal health and well-being at both the community and individual levels, and supports efforts that encourage overall community health and assessment to improve a community’s overall public health index score, including systemic and sustainable improvements.