This month is host to several annual health awareness campaigns. Movember participants are growing beards to raise money for men’s health, while others are doing what they can to bring attention to diabetes research and treatments.
Today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day. On this day, people join to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world. Organizations like the World Health Organization invest resources to develop technical and communication materials to raise awareness and combat stigma surrounding mental illness.
One in four Americans suffers from mental health disorder each year. A mental illness is a disorder that causes mild to severe disruption in thinking, perception and/or behavior and includes anxiety disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia, dementia and eating disorders. Just like chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, mental disorders are medical conditions – if left untreated, they can impair the ability for one to cope with life’s demanding daily tasks. Stigma associated with mental health disorders is one crucial element preventing treatable individuals from seeking care.
Former NFL defensive back Paul Oliver died this week from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Oliver was a hometown hero who took his varsity football team to the state championship. Called a wolverine and champion by teammates at the University of Georgia, he held Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson – a.k.a. Megatron, now a star with the Detroit Lions – to fewer yards than the whole Redskin defense did in 2013. He went on to make 144 tackles in 57 games with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. He brought enjoyment to friends and countless fans.
What caused this charismatic, well-liked, one-of-a-kind leader to take his life? Is traumatic brain injury (TBI) a cause and can health science provide answers?
Diabetes prevalence is on the rise and has reached epidemic levels in China. According to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the percentage of Chinese with diabetes has surpassed that of the U.S. In China, 11.6 percent of adults – 114 million people – have diabetes. Most alarming, only 30 percent of Chinese with diabetes are aware they have the disease.
According to the experts…Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects about 1.3 million people in the United States and pops up typically between the ages of 30-60, with women accounting for three times the number of men living with the disease.
Hmmm. Ages 30-60 you say? Really? How about 19?
Since it is World Arthritis Day, I thought it would be the perfect time for a virtual coming out party and the opportunity to share a personal story with all of you Full Spectrum Blog readers!
So here’s my tale (the cliff notes version):
Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched its newest anti-smoking advertising campaign and is getting real with graphic images and commentary from 14 individuals stricken with tobacco related illnesses and disabilities all before the age of 50.
The $54-million campaign dubbed “Tips from Former Smokers” is scheduled for a 12-week media run on various channels including mainstream television, radio, print, billboards, bus-shelter, and of course on online and mobile venues. In addition to the individuals who are already suffering from tobacco-related illnesses, three other people were chosen to be a part of the advertising campaign talking about their experiences with tobacco and how they quit before it was too late.
Scarily this $54 million campaign is only a drop in the bucket for the tobacco industry. According to Gardener Harris over at the New York Times, the average ad spend for the tobacco industry is about the same price for the 12-week campaign plus some for just two days of consumer facing commercial efforts.
…culture eats strategy for lunch every day. Now isn’t that the truth? Especially in PR where we put our logical strategic plans up to bat with popular culture daily and hope/wish our audiences hear and pay attention to our message.
Last week I had the pleasure and honor to attend the Health Affairs journal release event at the Capitol Hill Hyatt. This month’s journal was completely based around the #Diabetes pandemic in the United States and internationally with noted scholars such as Dr. Richard Kahn and K.M. Venkat Narayan.
My top take-a-ways:
Top three concepts:
Top three quotes (who says researchers aren’t pithy?):
The keynote speaker, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, shared her take on health care in the U.S. and said we need to put the fun back into our health care. Her speech set the bar high for the remainder of the day as panelists began their presentations.
One panel in particular raised many questions and discussion about ‘The Potential for Lifestyle Changes and Weight Loss.’ The three panelists, Kenneth Thorpe, Richard Kahn and Mohammed K. Ali (not to be confused with the former boxer, Muhammad Ali) first presented their respective papers and then fielded questions from a very engaged audience. With the short presentations by Kenneth Thorpe and Mohammed Ali both individuals covered the results from the National Diabetes Prevention Program with positive language. Dr. Kahn threw some proverbial ‘cold water in the hot tub’ (his words) by reminding the audience to take the results with a grain of salt.
Yesterday Maggie Fox (@maggiemfox) wrote a great piece regarding an American Heart Association study about the current trend in obesity and the health of Americans. The piece was based on a 10 year study that looked at the trending health and weight issues we face. The study lists a series of issues America will face due to this epidemic. I use the term epidemic because things like increases in high blood pressure, diabetes and of course heart diseases are forcing us into a national crisis.
When everyone hears about health issues the cost of health care becomes top of mind. When I do, and I’m sure as an Air Force brat, when Maggie does as well, it also brings national security and national resources to mind. Over a quarter of all young adults between the age of 17 and 24 are physically unfit to serve. I know a percentage of those people have physical reasons why they can’t serve but the number is still staggering. As a former United States sailor it absolutely shakes me to the core to think of what will happen if this trend in Americans’ health continues. Will we not be able to protect our borders, man our ships or send humanitarian aid to countries when they have natural disasters like typhoons or earthquakes?
Throughout college, as a student-athlete, I used to get a slight feeling of tightness on the right side of my chest. Minutes later, that feeling would be gone and I would continue to run without pain. Then, 24 hours later, the tightness returned and I became concerned. I checked with an RN at my university’s health center the next day, and it was determined the tightness in my chest was likely caused by my high blood pressure. Wait a minute! Me, a healthy young person with high blood pressure?
Well, it turns out that I’m not alone.
In fact, according to recent findings in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, one in five young adults has high blood pressure, or hypertension. Hypertension involves an extra high level of force pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. If your blood pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body, potentially causing kidney failure, heart failure or stroke. Individuals can help to control their blood pressure through exercise, diet and possibly drug therapy. So if high blood pressure is so common among young adults, why is there still so little education about it and how to control it?
Last Tuesday I attended the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation panel discussion which took a long hard look at the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. The panel, “AIDS at 30,” celebrated the progress of the 30-year HIV/AIDS battle, but also questioned how to end AIDS once and for all. While there’s no simple solution, the panel members explored how Americans can prevent the disease from taking more lives and shaving years off the lives of others.
Before the panel discussion, Jeff Crowley, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, spoke about the government’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s (NHAS) current progress. Twenty-one million dollars has already been set aside for the NHAS and several departments are coordinating policies and operational plans to address the epidemic. This ambitious plan, only a year old, aims to:
… all by 2015.