Providing Health and Wellness Services with Intention
Old habits can be hard to break. Whether it is drinking more water and less soda, increasing your daily steps, or learning portion control, sometimes you need support to make a lasting change. Over time, these small changes can lead to having a much healthier lifestyle.
Community Alliance understands why this is important: Research shows that people with mental illness are dying 10–20 years earlier than the general population, largely due to preventable health conditions like cardiovascular, respiratory, and metabolic diseases. We want to change this statistic, and that starts with providing basic health education.
Changing the Curve One Person at a Time
Anthony Bland and Nora Robinson, our Health and Wellness Specialists, are on the front lines of this effort. Nora has a degree in kinesiology and spent years working with children with special needs. Anthony holds degrees in exercise science and human performance and spent ten years as a college strength-training coach. Both followed their passion for helping people to Community Alliance—bringing a depth of expertise and knowledge to the team.
“My passion is helping people navigate a healthier version of themselves,” says Nora.
Anthony echoes this, saying, “I want to give people skills they can use to improve their life rather than just in the short term on a sports field.”
In their role as Health and Wellness Specialists, Anthony and Nora work with clients on a one-on-one basis as well as in a classroom setting. Their goal is to help each individual achieve their physical goals and promote health and wellness in their daily lifestyle to ultimately have a positive impact on their mental health. And this is a start to shifting the mortality rate of individuals with mental illness.
“Seeing a change in that curve will take a long time,” says Aileen Brady, Chief Operating Officer at Community Alliance. “We are approaching it one person at a time, helping people understand that they can take control over their personal wellness.”
Helping Clients Find Their Healthy Balance
Anthony and Nora help individuals set daily and weekly goals, track their progress, and find ways to stay motivated. Using disease registries to identify people with conditions like diabetes or high cholesterol allows them to bring people together and provide support, while creating educational programming that directly supports their needs.
“We saw an opportunity for Anthony and Nora to use the expertise they already have in health and wellness and bring that to Community Alliance so we can serve individuals in the best way possible,” continues Brady. “Their work is highly intentional.”
No matter the person, the initial goal is the same: to meet people where they are with their health. Every new client completes a 20-minute questionnaire with Anthony and Nora that usually develops into a meaningful conversation. Everyone has a different definition of a healthy life, so one of the first questions we ask is “What does a healthy version of you look like?”
Perhaps the person wants to add more movement and physical exercise to their daily routine. They may need help reading and understanding food labels, or changing their diet to lose weight. The initial goal may be as simple as someone is tired of feeling tired—and being motivated to change their life.
Focusing on the 8 Dimensions of Wellness
Anthony and Nora tailor their work with each person based on their wants, needs, and personal health conditions. Their approach uses the 8 Dimensions of Wellness: Social, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual, Environmental, Financial and Occupational. All of these dimensions are needed for an individual to lead a happy and balanced life.
“We insert those dimensions into everything we do,” says Anthony.
For example, several afternoons a week they host a walking club to promote physical wellness. Monday afternoons they have a healthy snacking class, targeting nutrition. Other classes include diabetes education, smoking cessation, and practicing daily healthy habits. These opportunities emphasize finding a balance, and encouraging small changes now to address current health concerns while also preventing chronic conditions in the future.
Taking a One-on-One Approach to Health Education
When people are given the right information and are motivated and engaged, they can make lasting changes in their lives. Anthony describes a client of three months who is very dedicated to her sessions and comes to her appointments on time, eager to utilize the tools and skills that Community Alliance provides. Whenever they meet with her now, she is carrying a water bottle—a small detail that signifies a major shift in her approach to wellness.
“We are serving people with existing health issues, but also reaching people headed down that path and teaching them how to lead a healthy lifestyle,” says Anthony.
Nora and Anthony will continue to take a personalized, one-on-one approach with clients, offering support, health education resources, and praise to motivate them on their journey.
Help Is Within Reach
Community Alliance offers a full range of integrated health services, including primary and psychiatric care, mental health and substance use counseling, rehabilitation and employment services, supportive housing, community, family and peer support, and more.