Community Voices

Wellness Providers

Throughout our community conversations, facilitators heard about what was important to participants, including the importance of self-care, struggles with mental health, and the perceived lack of services that could help with the stresses of everyday life. In response, DC Health will pilot a wellness initiative to introduce complementary ways to deal with mental, physical, and spiritual health.

In August 2020, as part of developing the wellness initiative, DC Health invited seven providers of different types of wellness areas to talk about their experiences providing wellness services in the region. These providers — six in an online discussion group and one in an individual online interview — shared their perspectives as life coaches, acupuncturists, medical qi gong instructors, personal trainers, yoga therapists, wellness support group leaders, and meditation guides specializing in breath work, mind-body approaches, exercise, trauma-informed care, traditional Chinese medicine, body work, resiliency, and energy work.

What do you think are barriers to why people may not seek your services? Why do you think people discontinue service

  • Knowledge – People don’t understand the service or how they can benefit.
  • Readiness – People aren’t ready to deal with their problems.
  • Finances – These services can be expensive.
  • Time and patience – This type of work is a process. There are no quick fixes.
  • Consistency – People engage, get information, disappear, and come back when they need to.
  • Trust – People need to trust the person who recommends and carries out the service. Convincing traditional providers about this type of work is harder than convincing the participants.

Let’s talk about some of the reasons people come to see you. Why do people seek your services?

We often see people who:

  • Are frustrated with traditional Western medicine, taking pills, and the invasive and impersonal nature of traditional healthcare approaches.
  • Want to understand and know their body better, as well as its healing power.
  • Are looking for a more personal experience.
  • Want spaces for the community to gather and feel safe and connected.
  • Realize and learn that health is a celebration, not a punishment.
  • Have the desire for accessible fitness without the judgment of a traditional setting.
  • Want to learn to know and use their body and make it a lifelong journey.

What do you feel can be done to get more people connected to wellness activities?

  • Empowerment – People need to know they are “worthy of wellness.” There is a lot of disempowerment in underserved communities. People feel as if they are not allowed to take care of themselves because they believe that self-care is for other people. No one ever told them self-care is healthy, not selfish.
  • Access – People often view wellness services as pretentious and out of reach. There is a need to acknowledge and dispel this notion so that it does not serve as a barrier or intimidate people.
  • Shame and judgment – Meet people where they are by making them feel comfortable and welcome. Going to the gym is like going to church; people feel they need to be in the “right” place to go and that they need to look “right.” Set realistic expectations for people. This could be a good opportunity to work with influencers for certain communities.
  • Language – Think about the language we use for wellness. Many terms may feel loaded or ambiguous (such as “wellness”), while others come with preconceived ideas of who can benefit (for example, “yoga is for skinny white women”). Use humor and associations to break down barriers. Use terms such as “body work” or “breath work,” instead of terms that sound exotic or complicated.
  • Trust – Clients and providers who make referrals need to trust the services being offered and the potential benefits so that they are informed when talking to potential participants. Providers can take part in the programs too.
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