Promoting Health Access in Northeastern Mississippi Communities

Northeast Mississippi Health Care (NMHC) has developed a strategic plan to inform and guide their important work over the next three years. This plan is based on a body of knowledge that emphasizes the importance of addressing structural barriers to health and health promotion. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the barriers to health promotion among older African-American men living in rural areas of the Mississippi Delta. The research process was particularly noteworthy as it eased participants' concerns, as well as their hopes of collaborating with researchers to collectively improve health promotion initiatives in the Mississippi Delta. The goal of this study was to understand how older African-American men in the Mississippi Delta defined “health” and the obstacles they faced when promoting men's health in their local community. In order to increase access to quality healthcare in the communities most in need, NMHC has implemented several strategies.

These include increasing the number of service delivery centers, creating forums that make it easier for groups of men to talk about health issues, and empowering community members in health promotion initiatives. Additionally, non-professional health counselors can be an important way for men to become interested in their health. The results of this study provide a descriptive and nuanced understanding of the ways in which structural barriers can intersect with notions of health and health promotion for older African-American men living in rural areas of the Mississippi Delta. It is essential to recognize the breadth of the term “health” in order to recognize the intersectionality of the individual with the structural barriers that prevent comprehensive well-being. The findings of this study highlight the complex challenges in promoting men's health in rural Mississippi Delta areas. Outsiders should refrain from assuming the unity and cohesion of communities based on geographical location or skin color, especially considering the complexity of historical oppression in contexts such as the Mississippi Delta.

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