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Advancing Whole Health and Integrative Health Equity for Hispanics in the US

By Dr. Arlene Betancourt

Dr. Arlene Betancourt - Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Integrative Medicine, Medical Director and Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern Department of Physician Assistant Studies

I’m so excited to share with you how Rosa es Rojo is helping to advance whole health and integrative health equity. I still remember my first meeting with Aidee back in 2021. Two years before, I had completed a fellowship in integrative medicine, a field that seeks a state of optimal whole health of the body, mind, spirit and community. As Aidee shared with me the mission and work of Rosa es Rojo, I was amazed to see a powerful example of integrative health right before my eyes!

Healing happens in our communities: only 20% of health outcomes are directly related to clinical care. Social connection has been linked to positive health outcomes, including better mental health and improved work productivity! Social connection is a national priority. Last year, the US Surgeon General published an advisory on the benefits of social connection including a call to individuals and institutions to help advance it. Rosa es Rojo is helping to advance social connection through two signature programs: The Rojo Way and SuperVive Comunidad. One of my favorite memories is bringing The Rojo Way to a group of Parkland nurses in 2022. While participating in the workshops, I witnessed Rosa es Rojo’s innate ability to break down complex subjects into simple, actionable steps. One of the participants, an ICU nurse, was able to improve her blood sugar level by implementing the ideas shared in class! 

From the beginning, Rosa es Rojo has been empowering individuals and communities to lead healthier lives. We learn accessible ways to challenge our negative thoughts and rewrite our narratives. In one of the workshops you even have the opportunity to climb a mountain prop while you share part of your hero’s journey! A year ago this month, I taught the first empowerment class for the Supervive community app. In our classes, we explore concepts like intuition and how listening to our own bodies can help us to better connect with ourselves and make better decisions. A question on why people avoid seeking medical care led to a deep dive into the world of emotions. We learned  that shame, a universal emotion, makes us feel disconnected and isolated. Marginalized communities and people who have experienced trauma are more likely to experience shame in the clinical setting. Having the empathy and support of a trusted community like Rosa es Rojo helps to dissipate shame. I love to see how our members are incorporating these ideas in their daily lives - by partnering with their physicians in the treatment and prevention of chronic pain, by modeling accessible mind-body practices to children with neurodevelopmental differences, and by establishing and respecting healthy boundaries to protect our health and wellbeing.

In our increasingly complicated world, we all long for individual and collective healing. Recognizing shame and trauma in ourselves, in other people, and in our systems, can help us to find new ways to solve social problems. The collective nature of trauma and shame benefit from a collective approach to healing. Healing relationships can positively impact not only individual behaviors but also a system’s behavior. Thanks to all of you, we have here today our own pocket of collective healing! Our healing circle honors all languages, colors, stories and traditions in a spirit of collaboration and reciprocity.

I dream of a future where whole health and integrative health equity are a reality for everyone. Reimagining our collective future will take all of us, dreaming and working together. Thank you so much for opening your hearts and minds to our cause. Together we are helping advance the health and wellbeing of our communities! 


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