Volunteering with underserved populations that could benefit from chiropractic care can advance your practice and personal growth plan
If you follow current events, a growing number of people are struggling to stay afloat amid a sea of stagnant wages, mass job layoffs, and increasing health care costs. Increased anxiety, stress, and depression about meeting the basic needs required for survival take their toll on the body in the form of both physical and mental illness.
Sadly, those people most affected by current uncertain economic conditions are often the ones least able to access the help needed for them to do so.
It goes without saying that there are numerous such underserved populations that could benefit from chiropractic care. If you are looking for a personally rewarding way to both nurture your own practice and personal growth plan and improve your community, volunteering your services with an underserved population can be both personally and professionally rewarding.
It’s easy to have a picture of homeless people as those who have fallen between the cracks of society. Unfortunately, that is no longer necessarily the case.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, more than 550,000 people were homeless on any given night in 2018. While approximately two-thirds of these are individuals, the remaining third comprises families with children. One of the main reasons for the increasing number of homeless families is the rise in the cost of living, which often makes housing unaffordable in urban areas.
In response to the homeless crisis, a number of shelters, drop-in centers, and free clinics are now offering alternative health care services, including chiropractic care, to their clients. Your local church may be a good place to start asking about volunteering to help the homeless, or you can search the internet locally for opportunities.
Certain groups of homeless people have specific needs that are often not addressed. Homeless vets are one such group, as they often suffer from PTSD, in addition to having to navigate an often confusing VA system to access benefits to which they are entitled.
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, more than 10% of homeless adults are veterans. Furthermore:
- 68% live in large cities
- 51% have disabilities
- 50% have serious mental illness
- 70% have substance abuse problems
Because homeless vets have such unique needs, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans coordinates annual Stand Down events around the country. These events, named after base camp areas at which soldiers could come to shower, eat and relax, serve as a one-stop location for various organizations to provide services and help.
Legal, VA, and job search assistance are all available, along with dental, medical, and mental health services.
Chiropractic care is offered at many of these Stand Down events, as it can help reduce symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety, as well as cravings related to substance abuse.
Homeless vets often feel as though the country they pledged to serve has abandoned them. The benefits from chiropractic can often be the first steps toward showing them the gratitude they deserve for their service, in addition to getting out in the community and furthering your practice and personal growth plan. If you are interested in volunteering at Stand Down events, visit the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans website for more information.
Unfortunately, teens who are struggling with their sexual or gender identity are at significantly greater risk for a number of significant health risks than their heterosexual/gender-conforming peers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), LGBTQ teens are at increased risk for depression, substance abuse, and high-risk sexual behaviors. Approximately one-third of LGBTQ teens will have attempted suicide at least once during any given year, compared to only 6% of their heterosexual/gender-conforming peers. LGBTQ teens are also more likely to be bullied or physically attacked on the basis of their sexual identity or gender presentation. All of these factors also contribute to LGBTQ teens being more likely to have precarious housing situations.
Volunteer organizations that focus on helping the LTBTQ community often emphasize complementary health care, including the use of chiropractic care. Because it is noninvasive, chiropractic treatment can be ideal for LGBTQ teens, particularly those who have experienced physical violence.
If you are interested in volunteering, see if there is a local LGBTQ center in your community. Such places will include services for teens and can direct you to the proper resources.
Chiropractic care is uniquely designed to help patients cope with a wide range of physical issues, yet there are often barriers to care for those who are most in need. Focusing your volunteer efforts on underserved populations can both help the most vulnerable among us and help you foster your own practice and personal growth plan.