Faith and Health Partnerships Monthly

Drawing on the wisdom of our religious traditions and the best social and public health science, we believe that positive, mutual relationships and the intentional practice of faith are at the heart of what creates equitable health and well-being for individuals, congregations and communities.

Promoting Health Equity For All

July 6, 2023

By: Anya Gordon, Wisconsin Manager, Faith and Health Partnerships

We’ve all heard the term, healthy equity. It has become a focal point of conversations in public, non-profit, and healthcare sectors.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation defines health equity as "the ability for everyone to have a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible."

But, according to the CDC, health disparities exist. Chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke, tend to be more common for people of color, people in under-resourced neighborhoods, and others whose life conditions place them at risk for poor health.

In addition, barriers, like racism, unsafe housing, polluted air and water, and food deserts, contribute to these unfair and avoidable differences in health outcomes. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sums it up this way: "After all, it's hard to be healthy without access to good jobs and schools and, safe, affordable homes."

Many organizations – Advocate Health included - devote resources and energy to promote health equity. However, to make meaningful progress, we must address social determinants - or drivers - of health (SDOH), the underlying social, economic, and environmental (non-medical) factors that contribute to health. At Advocate Health, for example, we have a Community Health Strategy that guides us in improving health outcomes in our communities by addressing not just medical needs, but social determinants, as well.

The materials provided in this special issue can enhance your efforts to promote health equity. We encourage you to join us in the discussion to help deliver the best health outcomes for those in your congregation and community. 

What is health equity?

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, "To build a Culture of Health, we must first ensure everyone has the basics to be healthy. And when it comes to expanding opportunities for health, thinking the same approach will work universally is like expecting everyone to be able to ride the same bike."

Download Health Equity bulletin insert in PDF and Word formats.

Download PowerPoint worship slide.

How can faith communities promote health equity?

Faith-based organizations can play a key role in promoting health equity, the National Academy of Sciences reports.

According to its "Communities in Action" Faith-Based Organizations report: "Working to tackle unemployment, concentrated poverty, and school dropout rates can seem overwhelming, but when actors in the community—including faith communities—work together, communities have the power to promote health equity through enduring community-driven interventions."

Your faith community can promote health equity by:

Hosting Love Asset Mapping Partnership (LAMP) sessions in your house of worship. Through LAMP, your congregation can collaborate and partner with organizations, healthcare systems, and members of your community to improve the health of people in your area. Reach out to us to learn more.

Teaming up with community organizations to address community concerns, such as community safety, food access, homelessness, etc.

Advocating for legislation and the use of civic resources (e.g., foodshelterchildcarerespite, and older adult care) to advance health equity.

Publicizing, a directory that links users to free and low-cost resources, such as food, safe housing, childcare, transportation, employment, and more.

Understanding Health Equity

What is health equity?

Across the nation, gaps in health are large, persistent, and increasing—many of them caused by barriers set up at all levels of our society. After all, it's hard to be healthy without access to good jobs and schools and, safe, affordable homes. Health equity means increasing opportunities for everyone to live the healthiest life possible, no matter who we are, where we live, or how much money we make. (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

What is health inequity?

Health inequities are systematic differences in health status, or distribution of health resources in different groups of people, which lead to unfair and avoidable differences in health outcomes.

(National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine)

What are health disparities?

Health disparities are preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities experienced by those living in communities that have been historically marginalized.


What are Social Determinants - or Drivers - of Health?

They are the conditions where people are born, grow, live, work and age, and are fundamental drivers of health, according to the World Health Organization’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health.

Health equity means giving everyone a fair shot at being as healthy as they can be. (Artwork courtesy of MN Pollution Control Agency)

Relationality - a Social Driver of Health

According to the National Institutes of Health, scientists are finding that our links to others can have a powerful effect on our health, both emotionally and physically.

That is good news for faith communities - places where positive connections, support, encouragement, and mutual care take place.

You and your members can create and nurture relationships through an intentional, relational approach. For example:

  • creating a welcoming, hospitable environment for visitors
  • offering activities, like small groups, to help members develop new friendships, get better acquainted, or strengthen established bonds
  • learning how to walk alongside those who are hurting in your congregation and community by taking the Companionship course. Learn how.

Virtually every faith tradition emphasizes the importance of loving and caring for neighbor. Doing so can not only create a loving community, but it also can also yield positive health benefits.

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

In May of 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives announced July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.


It was created to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face regarding mental illness in the US. Bebe Moore Campbell was an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate  who worked tirelessly to shed light on the mental health needs of the Black community and other underrepresented communities.


Mental Health America provides a toolkit with ideas on how you and your congregation can get involved:


Host a mental health screening or other educational event. Have computers or tablets available for people to go to Make sure to have a printer so that people can print their results. If an in-person event isn’t possible, host a webinar or social media live event.


Plan an advocacy event. This could be a day at your state capitol or an email campaign. Invite

advocates, consumers, concerned citizens, and community and business leaders to reach out to

policymakers to discuss your community’s mental health needs.


Team up with other local mental health and wellness organizations to host a community meet-and-greet. Connect with community organizations on a regular basis can encourage stronger systems of support and collectivism.


Learn more at

Download "Confronting the Barriers Impacting BIPOC Mental Health"

Culture, Community, & Connection. 2023 BIPOC Mental Health Outreach Toolkit.

Download Infographic: BIPOC And LGBTQ+ Mental Health

Report: Disparities impact life expectancy of older Black and Brown adults in Cook County

AgeOptions, the Suburban Cook County Area Agency on Aging, commissioned the University of Illinois at Chicago to conduct a comprehensive assessment of aging in suburban Cook County.


The report, Aging in the Suburbs, A Comprehensive Needs Assessment of Cook County Suburbs 50+ Population, is the first effort by external researchers since 1981.


Not surprisingly, the assessment showed that disparities loom large and impact the very life expectancy of older Black and Brown adults. Non-English-speaking older adults are especially at risk of social isolation.


Faith communities in suburban Cook County can access data and learn more about the needs of older adults in their town or suburban area by visiting the AgeOptions website.

Rev. Kirsten Peachey (right), Vice President, Faith Outreach for Advocate Health Midwest, and chair of the AgeOptions Board of Directors Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee, moderated a panel discussing the changing demography and increased diversity of the older adult population across the county.

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Who We Are

Faith and Health Partnerships

We work side-by-side with faith communities to promote health equity by mobilizing the transforming power of social connectedness and spiritual wisdom.

Our core belief: Drawing on the wisdom of our religious traditions and the best social and public health science, we believe that positive, mutual relationships and the intentional practice of faith are at the heart of what creates equitable health and well-being for individuals, congregations and communities.

Learn more about our work in English and Spanish

We blend the strengths of Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care with the strengths of your congregation to improve the health of those in your community. 

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