Category Archives: Awareness

What’s Your Risk? Mental Health Awareness Month 2017

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May is Mental Health Month and this year’s theme is Risky Business. Mental Health America wants to educate people about how certain behaviors and habits can affect mental health. These include risky sex, drug misuse, internet addiction, excessive spending, and problematic exercise routines. Mental illnesses affect almost everybody whether it is short term, long term, severe, or mild. According to a study, after following people ages 11-38, only 17% were able to avoid some sort of mental illness! Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse were the top three findings in the study.

College is a huge life transition. It is an exciting experience, but it is also full of stress and pressure to do well academically and socially. Did you know that 75% of all mental illnesses begin to show up by age 24? That makes college a critical time to become aware of the signs and symptoms of a mental illness. It is important for students to get help as soon as possible. Fortunately, the rates of students getting help has been increasing over the years, although it is difficult to determine how effective their help and treatment is.

The following link is a guide to common mental illnesses in college students. It provides coping strategies and advice to those who may be struggling with a mental illness, or those whose friends may be struggling. This link is also a great source to learn more about each mental illness.

http://www.learnpsychology.org/mental-health/

Mental illness is serious, and it is not something to be embarrassed about. There are people available who want to help. Here at MSUM, Hendrix Clinic and Counseling Center is a place to go for help! Evaluate your behaviors. Are they risky? If you or a friend are showing signs of a mental illness, don’t be afraid to utilize your available resources!

 

Sources:

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/when-your-adult-child-breaks-your-heart/201705/mental-health-awareness-month

http://time.com/4473575/college-mental-health-guidebook/

https://namiwilmington.org/mental-health-month-2017/

Just Breathe! It’s National Clean Air Month 2017!

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We can all agree that air is an important part in our everyday lives. Without it, there is no life. What do we do when it starts to cause more harm than good? Education is a start! May is National Clean Air Month and the purpose is to educate people about the affects air quality can have on our lives. Clean air has been a hot topic for years as pollution increases and air quality decreases. Certain amounts of oxygen, carbon dioxide,  and nitrogen come together to create clean air. It does not include pollutants or allergens.

It’s important that we understand what clean air is and what is not clean air. Poor quality air causes harm to all living things. It affects plants, bodies of water, and animals. It also causes cancer and serious respiratory disorders such as bronchitis and worsens symptoms of those with asthma. Other health conditions caused by air pollution include nausea, difficulty breathing, skin irritation, birth defects, developmental delays, compromised immune systems, and the list could go on. Low quality air affects the entire body!

Currently, about 39% of people living in the United States are living in poor air quality areas. Do you think that percentage is high? It is, but good news! This percentage is lower than last year! Our country has been working hard to improve air quality thanks to many factors including carpooling, walking, biking, or taking the bus to work; decreasing the output of pollutants from factories; recycling; and so many more. The Clean Air Act was established in 1970 and has created the base to our efforts towards clean air. Many decisions in the government that involve air quality are influenced by the Clean Air Act. Since 1970, there has been an increase in energy use, economy, and miles driven. You would think that air quality would get worse due to these factors, but thanks to the Clean Air Act, air has actually improved in quality!

Having clean air to breathe is vital for good health. Some places in our country need more work, but our efforts to improve the quality of the air that we breathe is working! Let’s continue to work toward a clean environment! Check out the following link to look at the rankings for cleanest and most polluted cities in the United States and see if you can find where Fargo-Moorhead area ranks!

City Rankings

Interactive Map of Quality

 

Sources:

http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/sota/

http://www.whathealth.com/awareness/event/cleanairmonth.html

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749107002849

http://breatheproject.org/news/clean-air-dirty-air/

 

 

International Nurses Day May 12th, National Nurse Week May 6th-12th

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Florence Nightingale is an important figure in the world of nursing and healthcare. She was born in May of 1820 and  belonged to a prosperous British family. From a young age, she believed her purpose was to become a nurse, administering aid to the poor and the ill. Her parents were unsupportive of her career decision and were disgruntled by her refusal to settle down and marry a man of social affluence. Florence wasn’t distracted from her goal and received her nursing degree at the Lutheran Hospital of Pastor Fliedner in Kaiserwerth, Germany.

Florence worked as a nurse in a hospital at Constantinople during the Crimean war in 1853 and worked to improve on the unsanitary and inhumane living conditions of the wounded soldiers there. She tended to their wounds and illnesses during every time of the day, earning her the nickname “the Lady with the Lamp.” Once the war was over, Florence returned home to the praise of the public, earning awards and monetary prizes from the Queen and the British government. Throughout the rest of her life, she campaigned for the improvement of health standards and hospital designs, as well as for the reform of professional training for nurses. Florence remains a notary figure today whom many people still consider to be an important role model.

Florence Nightingale survives in our history as an inspired nurse and a compassionate statistician.  She changed the world of nursing and will always be remembered as an important figure in healthcare and nursing.

International Nurses Day is celebrated worldwide every May 12, on the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. It is celebrated to recognize the life-changing contributions nurses make to society. Though mainly commemorated around May 12 each year, IND activities are carried on throughout much of the year by nurses and others.  In addition to International Nurses Day, the United States also celebrates National Nurses Week. The first time the suggestion to create this week was in 1953. It failed. It was suggested again in 1954. It failed again. The next time it was suggested to the president was 2 decades later in 1972 when it finally passed. The American government also decided to honor Nightingale by finishing off a week of awareness on her birthday.

Some of the goals of these two events are to improve the image of nurses while also influencing healthcare policies around the world.  One of the easiest ways to show your respect and to help these goals is to say thank you to a nurse you know or meet.

Photo: http://www.florence-nightingale.co.uk

Sources:

ICN

ANA

http://www.biography.com/people/florence-nightingale-9423539?page=2

http://www.florence-nightingale.co.uk/the-collection/biography.html

http://nursing.advanceweb.com/Features/Articles/Empowering-Nurses-with-Data.aspx

http://plus.maths.org/content/florence-nightingale-compassionate-statistician

Immunizations can help protect your child: National Infant Immunization Week 2017

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Did you know that National Infant Immunization Week started in 1994 as a part of the World Health Organizations effort to increase awareness of the positive effects of vaccinations? Every year since, the World Health Organization WHO, holds this infant immunization week sometime every April. This year it is to take place April 22nd to the 29th.

The goal is almost exactly the name, infant immunization. The WHO strives to incorporate the positives of routine vaccinations into the early health and development of children. One of the flaws of having developed a means to help prevent these childhood diseases is that no one remembers how devastating they could be. In 1920, only 68% of children in the world made it to age 5. That was less than a hundred years ago. Last year that number was at roughly 99.5% in the United States.

There has been some argument that administering so many vaccines, usually 3 or 4 at the same time, overloads the child’s immune system. That has been proven to be false, as they have new immune system. Everyday their immune systems fight off millions of disease causing agents. These vaccines introduce the body to damaged or dead diseases that would otherwise cause harm if they interacted with the live strains.

One example of what mass vaccination has prevented is Polio. There has not been a case of polio that originated in the country since 1979. Every year it would cause several thousand deaths, in addition to paralyzing,blinding or causing damage to the nervous system for tens of thousands every year. Based on historical data, we need an absolute minimum of 86% of the population vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of polio.  You would think that it would be closer to 100% than the minimum, but in 2012 only 92% of the population vaccinated.

There are many examples that prove that vaccinations help prevent epidemics, so why take the risk of not vaccinating?

WHO

CDC

Healthy People 2020 Goals/Evidence-Based practices

https://ourworldindata.org/child-mortality/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity

http://vaccines.procon.org/view.additional-resource.php?resourceID=005964

Calling All Users of Science

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This Saturday there is going to be a series of marches and protests occurring in 358 cities in the United States and over 500 world wide. The March for Science is the first event of it’s kind. It is a call for support from all students, science-based careers and anyone who benefits from scientific advances (psst that’s everyone). It’s a nonpartisan even that is urging policy makers to look at evidence based practices and scientific data to influence their policies and ruling instead of money.

You can find a city near you here that is holding a march. The Fargo/Moorhead area is holding a large one that is expecting several thousand visitors. Here are some of the missions or goals that the March for Science hopes to achieve.

  • Evidence-based policy and regulations in the public interest. They wish for policy makers to make decisions not altered by other agendas.
  • Cutting-edge science education. They believe that a science background isn’t only for a select few, the entire  majority of the population should be able to interpret scientific literature.
  • Diversity and Inclusion in STEM. This comes into play with the previous mission, they wish to have an outreach in education.
  • Open, honest science and inclusive public outreach. Several policies that have been passed recently have banned or limited the exchange of scientific literature and dialogue. By restricting access to the newest information, the governmental body is harming it’s people.
  • Funding for scientific research and its applications. Under the proposed 2018 budget, all scientific bodies with federal funding will see a cut from 10% to 31%. They wish to change so that we are capable of producing more advancements.

In the few months that this has been planned, they have partnered with over 300 different scientific agencies and centers. Here is their page for the MN marches specifically.  They have several social media accounts; check them out on Facebook, Twitter,and Instagram.

 

Care for the Earth, and it’ll care for you Earth Day 22nd 2017

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Take a deep breath, now let it out. The air you just breathed in was probably refreshing at best, tolerable at worst. You might have noticed the onion or tuna you ate, but that was the worst of it. The next time you drink water, look at it. Is it clear? Probably. Is it colorless? Again, most likely. Is there water in your cup? Well duh.

Never before have these two things been at risk before, drinking and breathing, in the human existence time frame. With the help of globalization and a population boom, humans are having a profound effect on the world. We haven’t had to come to terms that it won’t last forever, because we’ve never had to worry about that in the past.

For the first time in human existence, carbon levels have risen above a threshold it has never crossed before. It didn’t just stop there; the current levels of carbon are sitting at 133% of that threshold. This rise in carbon is having an increased effect, often called the Greenhouse Effect. Due to this warming, there are many changes that are taking place in the world.

Professor Wallace recently gave a seminar on climate change here on campus and the effects that it has on human health. In her presentation she introduced us to some interesting points. A warmer world, even by 2 or 3 degrees Celsius shifts the mosquito habitat. More people will be exposed to mosquito borne disease and for longer times; Zika, Yellow Fever, Dengue, West Nile and the list goes on. Currently 3.6 billion are at risk for these diseases. With a temperature increase that number could rise up to 5 billion. Allergies will worsen as their window widens also. Flooding will increase, as will hurricanes and tornadoes.

Some cities have to issue warnings over smog exposure. It is estimated that of the 10 million deaths every year in China, 1 million is caused by pollutants. Exposure to all these new chemicals is wreaking havoc on our bodies and the environment. In addition to this smog exposure, there is an increasing amount of people with other respiratory problems such as asthma. In 2001, 1 in 14 people had asthma. In 2009, 1 in 12 people. That is the most recent number, although the CDC projects that as many as 1 in 10 people have asthma today.

The goal of Earth Day is to bring awareness to all these issues. It is trying to create scientifically literate people who will in turn be scientifically literate voters on environmental policies. They aim to change the direction of the world towards more green energy, jobs and technology. They hope that by 2020 a majority of the population will be able to understand the scientific literature that affects their lives and environments.

The first Earth Day was held in 1970, and attendance was well above what anyone was expecting. 20 million people, roughly 10% of the population, joined the rallies and marches. It has been one of the most effective awareness days because it is bipartisan for the most part. After that first celebration, the government felt pressured into creating the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air, Clean Water and the Endangered Species Act were also created.

Here are some more facts about Earth Day and our environment.

  • There is roughly 155 billion pounds of plastic in the ocean and roughly 9 billion is added every year
  • We will only be able to fill 60% of the world’s water needs by 2030 without better management
  • The Montreal Protocol signed in 1987 banned many chemicals that were ripping a hole in the ozone. Thanks to that act, the ozone is now healing and the hole is closing.
  • A convention was held in 1997, the Convention on Biological Diversity. Here many countries around the world pledged that they would work to sustain a diverse biosphere starting in their own countries.
  • The Renewable Portfolio Standard is an aggressive self- proposed bill in California that says that the state has to get half their energy from renewable sources by 2030. Many states followed, but theirs is the most ambitious.
  • In 2012 the Earth Day Network planted 1 billion trees to try and bring back forested areas.

https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/asthma/

http://www.earthday.org/wp-content/uploads/Earth-Day-Action-Toolkit-2017.pdf

http://mashable.com/2015/04/22/earth-day-facts/#ugyWvQqJIaqB

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/04/160422-earth-day-46-facts-environment/

 

Autism Awareness April 2017

There are approximately 3.5 million people living with autism in the United States, affecting about 1 in every 68 births. The rate in 2004 was roughly 1 in every 125 births, showing that the occurrence rate has doubled since then. As more and more American families are being affected, the nation has to decide how to best service these families and their needs.

Autism Awareness Month hopes to increase the 4 A’s and an I of Autism; Awareness, Action, Acceptance, Appreciation and Inclusion. One of the driving reasons for wanting these five things is to make them feel human and a part of society. This is important, because legislation that affects their lives is being written right now by people that don’t know much about this disorder. They don’t have the proper background to make informed decisions, which this month is trying to change.

The symptoms of autism usually become prominent in ages 2 to 6 years. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has five behaviors that parents should watch for and use as indicators for further evaluation.

  • Does not babble or coo by 12 months
  • Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months
  • Does not say single words by 16 months
  • Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
  • Has any loss of any language or social skill at any age

Having even 1 or 2 of these symptoms is not a diagnosis. You need to bring your child to a panel of specialists that know more about the disorder and how to diagnose it. These are just behaviors that suggest you should do this.

There is for no for certain cause for autism at the moment. The main things that are thought to play apart in the development in autism are genetics, epigenetics (gene folding due to a shifting environment) or a possible comorbidity with other genetic diseases. It used to be thought that it developed after a traumatic event in their childhood, but that has been disproven. It is also currently thought that certain immunizations cause autism to develop, but numerous epidemiological studies have disproved that belief.

MSUM is having an Autism Documentary and Panel night on campus to help raise awareness. It will be in Langseth 104 at 7pm this Monday April 7th. They will be a film followed by a panel for any questions.

One way that you can show your support for this month is by wearing the unrecognizable puzzle ribbon. The Autism Society sells the ribbons here and the proceeds go towards research and aid. If someone approaches you, don’t turn them away. Take this moment to educate them. If you are unsure of something, say so instead of spreading false information.

Autism Society

Autism Research Institute

World Health Organization

Autism Speaks