Spotlight on Health Literacy for the Justice Involved
August 23, 2017
Over the past four years, MIHS has been involved in a unique partnership between federal and county government, the public health system, and local non-profits. The Health Literacy Initiative has provided health literacy and health financial literacy education to those that have been previously or are currently involved in the justice system. The justice-involved population has a greater burden of health issues, including higher rates of past trauma, mental illness and substance abuse, all of which contribute to a cycle of low health literacy. The Health Literacy Initiative has united sectors and transcended the barriers that have separated the justice system from the health care system in the past.
The AmeriCorps VISTA Health Educator, Mary Walsh, presented 211 classes reaching 2553 people over the past year, bringing the total impact to 396 classes and 4,570 people since the program began in 2014. Contained in this report are not only the numbers that show the impact, but the stories of and quotes from those whose lives have been changed for the better by this successful initiative.
A story from the Health Educator:
“I recently attended a graduation ceremony for a treatment program that is operated by the jail system. I’ve been teaching this program since October 2016, and have been present at several of these graduations. However, this most recent one really sticks out to me. Here is a direct quote from one of speeches given by an individual who graduated: “Thank you Mary, for coming in and telling us about health. Teaching us about AHCCCS – that is so big, even life-changing, for somebody like me. So thank you.” The quoted man came up to me after the ceremony was over to tell me that his girlfriend is pregnant and that he passed along all of the information he learned in class to her. So now they know where to go for information and help if they need it. He also said, “Thank you for caring enough to give us your time. It really means something to us guys here on the inside to know that you took time out of your day.” I had tears in my eyes as I drove back to work.