Consider This: Thoughts of a Behavioral Health Consultant

By John Dabrowski, LICSW
Geiger Gibson Community Health Center & Neponset Health Center

       For the past six weeks, HHSI employees have taken part in a wellness challenge to see which four-person team can take the most steps, using the Mount Everest peak as a goal point. Wearing pedometers, each staff member records their daily steps and reports the weekly total to their Team Captain. The Working On Wellness (WOW) Team, a group of employees dedicated to staff fitness, then translates the total steps into how far each team has trekked up Mount Everest.

      I feel the need to comment on HHSI’s shared initiative of the past month, “shared” insofar as even if you didn’t take part, it was hard to ignore completely.  People were walking around with these little plastic things on their hips!  Our team had two of them and in a toilet (don’t ask how, but one was mine, and they dry out and work fine after a day) several got lost, but we, and I think a majority if those that started, slogged on, counting all the way. 

      Numbers can be a great incentive, and the WOW team knows this.  Some teams got great numbers, others less so, some teams disappeared (eaten by yetis, perhaps), and of course, many just noticed that this whole curious thing was happening around them.  Stages of change shifted, or at least awareness for some,  which is a kind of change in itself.  My personal “change”: initially, I was Precontemplative, as in “I bicycle everywhere as it is, I don’t need to walk more, too.” 

        Then I was coaxed/persuaded/railroaded onto a team and wore the thing – and started walking more, as my wife has been telling me for years to do, as it is “weight bearing exercise, good for the bones.”  I used spare minutes at work to “get in some steps”, went outside in the lovely August weather, and got to appreciate the Harbor Point neighborhood a whole lot more.  Thus moving from Precontemplative to Contemplative to Action, which is the stage that truly matters.  A textbook lesson in change, of the same sort we are working on with our patients, all the time, and part of our mission.  More importantly, everyone who took part or sort of took part or who watched by the trailside,  had their “consciousness raised”, as we used to say in the 60s, about how Harbor Health is committed to improving people’s health –sometimes our own – and will keep thinking of ways to do that better.  In ways that can even be fun, sometimes.  Thanks, WOW team.


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