In May, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships hosted Wesley Theological Seminary’s Doctorate of Ministry – Faith, Health, and Community students and local health ministers for an all day briefing on health minister guides in Washington, DC. Wesley Theological Seminary and Health Ministries Association have played an important role in developing the health minister guide series. Wesley Theological Seminary Doctorate of Ministry students as well as local health ministers had the privilege to meet with Kimberly Konkel, MSW, a Health and Human Services (HHS) Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Health Director, who coordinated the briefing with the various lead HHS contributors and authors of the various health guides.
The health minister guides are part of a new series produced by HHS to bring the latest understanding of prevention, health, and medical science directly to local communities, especially faith communities. The health minister guides cover traditional and complex health topics impacted by social conditions. The guides are aimed at health ministers, including faith community nurses, who HHS recognizes as trusted messengers in communities. HHS recognizes the work of the Health Ministries Association in providing clarity and capacity building in developing the health minister role through HMA’s “The Health Minister Role: Guidelines and Foundational Curriculum Elements”.
HHS believes that health ministers can disseminate the latest health information and encourage the adoption of health behaviors in culturally appropriate ways. HHS sees health ministers as key influencers in their community to create “health literate” populations. The guides prepare health ministers for educating their community and promoting health behaviors in a variety of topics, including seeking care and navigating the health system.
Currently published health minister guides on HHS’ website include Bladder Health, Viral Hepatitis and Seasonal Flu. Health minister guides being developed or drafted include domestic violence, child maltreatment, opiod drug use, suicide, zika, flu, and kidney health. Wesley Theological Seminary’s Heal the Sick program helped HHS and NIH to pilot and gain health minister feedback in the development of the first guide on bladder health.
HHS’ key goals for the health minister guides:
- Address stigma that impedes health-seeking behaviors
- Promote positive health behaviors through community-based prevention and health promotion interventions and models
- Reduce socio-cultural barriers and medical mistrust that can impede health education—especially among hard-to-reach groups who often have disproportionate disease burden
- Establish and strengthen partnerships with advocacy and other groups
- Increase and improve the provision of culturally competent care
- Establish a feedback loop between communities and HHS science agencies
- Integrate health minister guide series into health ministry programs of faith communities