Linking Communities of Faith to Public Health
Who We Are
The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) understands the important role that faith plays in helping people have better health outcomes. Faith leaders are trusted messengers within their communities and are on the front lines of fighting many of the health issues that are affecting our communities. The Arkansas Department of Health respects the diversity of religious belief and practice of all people. We believe that all communities of faith and public health can work well together to promote the common goal of improving health and well-being of people, families and communities.
What We Do
The Office of Faith-based Outreach works to inform, educate and empower communities of faith to take an active role in their health. We believe that everybody should have an opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Realizing that communities of faith reach a broad audience, we work with you to identify and address community health concerns, as well as support projects, initiatives and research that will enable every Arkansan to achieve their optimal level of health and well-being.
There is no one right way to improve the health of everyone in a community. The most successful efforts involve different people all working together. We work in collaborative partnership with different ADH programs and community organizations to strengthen, expand resources, and find solutions that will have a lasting positive impact on health. These partnerships also help to build a stronger foundation so that hard-to-reach and at risk persons can have better health.
How May We Help?
Nutrition for Women, Children, and Adolescent Girls
Arkansas residents are facing hardships as a result of COVID-19. Many individuals and families are experiencing economic challenges for the first time and need help. It is important now more than ever to achieve the best physical health possible. Arkansas WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women infants and Children) can help. WIC provides a wide variety of select healthy foods for pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, babies, and young children up through five years of age.
Getting Real About Hospital Readmissions
People who are admitted to the hospital sometimes have many health problems. When someone is discharged from the hospital, it is important that they take good care of themselves so that they will not be readmitted to the hospital too early. For people who live in the Arkansas Delta, early readmissions occur more often, are expensive and can often be prevented. In collaboration with the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, we engage faith-focused groups in a process that enables identifying and responding to community resources as it relates to preventable hospital readmissions.
The Power 2B Whole Regional Summits
The Power 2B Whole Regional Summits are an annual gathering of ADH public health professionals, faith and spiritual leaders, community organizations, community stakeholders and advocates that come together to develop solutions, introduce new strategies and fuel collaborations to build healthy and sustainable communities. The original event slated to take place this fall, has been postponed to Spring 2021 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Power 2B Whole organizers will continue to monitor the latest information from health officials to ensure a safe and exciting event for everyone.
Tobacco Free Communities of Faith
Helping people become tobacco free is a major step towards having tobacco free communities. When it comes to quitting tobacco products or using e-cigarettes, different people need different types of support to quit and stay tobacco and nicotine free. Communities of faith provide a place of acceptance and support for those trying to quit. Tobacco Prevention and Cessation offers a variety of trainings and community education designed to help both youth and adults to stop using tobacco and nicotine products, including “No Menthol Sunday”, a National African American Prevention Network program.
Stroke is No Joke
Stroke is a sudden death of brain cells in a localized area due to inadequate blood flow! Not knowing stroke signs and symptoms, or what to do when someone is having a stroke could cost someone their life. Data from the Arkansas Stroke Registry shows that many people experiencing stroke symptoms are NOT calling 911, but instead are arriving to emergency rooms in their private car. ADH in partnership with UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation Stroke Program, educates Arkansas hospitals, communities, including faith communities on stroke signs and symptoms using the acronym B.E. F.A.S.T.
Vaccines are a key part of public health, saving millions of lives and billions of dollars by preventing diseases. Arkansas immunization rate are low and this means many people aren’t protected and are at risk for illnesses that are preventable. Faith communities and faith leaders can be extremely helpful in encouraging healthy behaviors and educating communities about the importance of immunizations. We offer free preventive education workshops, as well as provide training on how to conduct a mass flu clinic for your community.
Get Vaccinated: Prevention and You!
Interventions that promote vaccinations are more effective when communities of faith are engaged in the process. ADH in partnership with ImmunizeAR, offers tools and resources that support community engaged teaching. The toolkits have everything you need to conduct a workshop, including a leaders manual, participant booklet, PowerPoint presentation (with presenter notes) and handouts for the participants. Everything is downloadable and available to print from the following sites:
Living with Chronic Illness
Many Arkansans live with chronic illness and pain, such as uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, cancer, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Chronic conditions and illnesses are constantly changing; a person may feel fine one day, but unable to get out of bed the next day. Many people turn to their faith family for guidance, acceptance and support during difficult health times. If you know someone suffering with a chronic illness, there are many things you can do to help. We offer chronic disease self-management education, as well as resources to help people cope and adapt to chronic illness.
Mental and Emotional Wellness
People are hurting. Faith leaders report that more and more people are coming through their doors struggling with addictions, anxiety, and depression. Research shows there is a strong mind-body connection through which mental, emotional, social, occupational, spiritual and environmental factors can directly affect our health. When these things are out of balance, things such as disease, depression, alcohol or drug misuse and suicide can occur. Your faith community can become a healing community. We provide support through trainings that include substance abuse and misuse, as well as suicide awareness and prevention.
COVID-19 Mental Health Hotline for Faith-based Leaders: 501-904-7805
Wellness for Women, Adolescents, Infants, and Children
Communities of faith have a genuine concern about the health of their members and broader community. As a trusted source, you have the power to make a positive impact on health. ADH is committed to improving the health of women of childbearing age, adolescents, children, infants, and children with special health care needs. We support the development of family-centered, community-based, coordinated systems of care. Learn how you can support better health and well-being for your community.
Moms and Babies Welcome!
For many people, communities of faith are the center of community life; places where physical and spiritual well-being can be nourished and nurtured. Research has shown that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants and more families are deciding to offer the natural nutrition that breast milk provides. We can help you create healthy, friendly faith communities for breastfeeding families.
Know the Signs and Act in Time for Heart Attack
Early symptoms, such as mild or stuttering chest pain, are identified as major risk factors for heart attack. Adults often ignore these warnings and put themselves at risk for significant damage to the heart muscle, or even death. Most heart damage occurs within the first two hours of heart attack. ADH partners with the Arkansas STEMI Advisory Council and American College of Cardiology to help bring Early Heart Attack Care (EHAC) educational materials to Arkansans. EHAC education teaches people to recognize the early signs and symptoms of heart attack to increase usage of 911 when suspected. Another ADH partner is the American Heart Association who provides online education on heart attack warning signs. More information can be found here.
Dose of Reality
Communities of faith are often the first to recognize brokeness and are places of refuge for those addicted to prescription pain medicines. Communities of faith are insturmental in helping to address, educate and prevent this growing substance abuse crisis. Learn how you can help! We provide Dose of Reality training for faith leaders and places of worship.
Healthy communities are places where people live, learn, work, play and worship. Health interventions that incorporate faith or spiritual elements have proven to be the most achievable. We understand this matters to you. The Hometown Health Program supports you in efforts to encourage healthy lifestyles among your faith community. We help you to identify health needs specific to your community of faith and offer tools and resources to help your community take charge of their health. Whatever health goal you would like to achieve—we can help.
We Would Love to Hear from You!
If you are interested in any of these programs or would like more information please contact:
|Arkansas Department of Health
Faith-based Outreach Coordinator
Whatever you need--health education, disease prevention, health promotion, or training--we have it. If we don't have it, we will do our best to find it.
On July 20, Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a state-wide Directive on Face Coverings.
It stated, “The Secretary of Health requires every person in Arkansas to wear a face covering completely over the mouth and nose in all indoor environments, excluding private residences, where they are exposed to non-household members and distancing of six (6) feet or more cannot be assured and in all outdoor settings, excluding private residences, where there is exposure to non-household members, unless there exists ample space of six (6) feet or more to practice physical distancing. Exempt are persons engaged in religious worship activities; however, face coverings are strongly encouraged.”
Please note that, although the Governor was careful to separate Church and State in this Order, his clear intent was that places of worship should be safe from the transmission of COVID-19. Hence, the Order strongly encourages the use of face coverings in places of worship, just as in all other public spaces. Please see the link to our Guidance for Places of Worship below.
Click here to view in Spanish.
COVID-19 Resources for Communities of Faith
The following resources are meant to support specific needs and interests of diverse communities of faith. This page will be continually updated as we learn more.
CDC COVID-19 Guidance for Communities of Faith
- COVID-19 Considerations for Communities of Faith
- COVID-19 Guidance for Places of Worship | Spanish | Marshallese
- Events and Gatherings: Readiness and Planning Tool
- Considerations for Wearing Cloth Face Coverings
- Cloth Mask Pattern for Community Use | 3-Layer Masks
- List of Cleaning Products That Will Eliminate the COVID-19 Virus
Faith Specific Guidance for Communities of Faith
- Administrative Principles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
- Coronavirus and the United Church of Christ
- COVID-19 and Church of God in Christ (COGIC)
- Episcopal Arkansas and COVID-19
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
- Mennonite Church USA
- National Muslim COVID-19 Task Force Joint Statement
- Presbyterian Church USA and COVID-19
- Quaker Faith and Practices
- Seventh-day Adventist Church NAD
- Unitarian Universalist Association
- United Methodists of Arkansas
COVID-19 Download Signage
FAITH Network Toolkit
COVID-19 Burials, Funerals, Memorials
Every faith community has unique practices to honor the deceased, however due to COVID-19 traditional practices and rituals may need to be changed. The following are considerations for communities of faith.
- Promote the 2020 Census with the Guide for Communities of Faith
- Substance Use Resource Guide for Prevention, Treatment, Recovery, and Harm Reduction
The following community organizations share our passion for improving health and support efforts of the Office of Faith-based Outreach.
Connect with us: