By Jeri Royce, President & CEO, Esperança
RELAX!! Today, April 16, is National Stress Awareness Day – designed to raise awareness of the stress we face as a normal part of life and, more importantly, create strategies for dealing with stress so we can live happier and more peaceful lives.
The value of national awareness days can be found when they shine a light on issues of which the general public may lack awareness. I’m not sure any of us lack the awareness of stress and what it does to our everyday life, but stress is not created equal and that is worthy of discussion.
People with low incomes and racial/ethnic minority populations experience greater levels of stress than their more affluent, white counterparts, which can lead to significant disparities in both mental and physical health that ultimately affect life expectancy, according to a report from the American Psychological Association. In fact, a 2016 analysis indicated that men whose income is in the top 1 percent live almost 15 years longer than those in the bottom 1 percent. For women, that difference is almost 10 years.
“Good health is not equally distributed. Socio-economic status, race and ethnicity affect health status and are associated with substantial disparities in health outcomes across the lifespan,” said Elizabeth Brondolo, PhD, chair of an APA working group that wrote the report. “And stress is one of the top 10 social determinants of health inequities.”
The good news is we know that when disease prevention practices, education and treatment are delivered within a system of collaborative partners at-risk populations can improve their health outcomes. Esperança delivers its services within systems of collaborative partners anchored in three basic tenants:
- Belief in and commitment to health equity for all.
- Understanding our community’s health, risk factors and cultural practices and collecting data that helps us measure the impact of our services.
- Collaborative partnerships within and across service sectors (medical providers, social service agencies, public health agencies and community organizations) improves health outcomes faster and more sustainably than delivering services in a vacuum.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that this year’s National Stress Awareness Day comes at a time when we are facing a world-wide Coronavirus pandemic. At times like this there isn’t a person on the planet who is not dealing with some level of stress. However, as in “normal” times, those facing health inequities are affected now more than ever. Esperança stands ready to be of service to those who need us the most.