Category: Uncategorized

A Need to Address Student Stress

For both collegiate and graduate students, stress is a commonplace experience. Research findings are showing that students are experiencing anxiety at troubling and increasing rates. Nearly one in five American college students is burned with an anxiety disorder. Stress – specifically financial stress – is expected to be one of the factors underwriting this epidemic.

Although stress is traditionally defined as “how the brain and body respond to any demand”, particularly those which are negative – such as traumatic events, major life changes, etc. However, with stress can come a range of unexpected physical side effects. This includes but is not limited to: headaches, low energy, aches and pains and insomnia. Over time, when someone endures prolonged stress, it can lead to more serious consequences, such as anxiety and mental health deficits.

Experiencing some stress is a normal and necessary part of everyone’s lives. However, as mentioned above, excess stress can yield serious adverse health consequences. It’s important to keep one’s stress in balance, and healthline.com has provided a short list of ways to help reduce stress:

  • Talk about your stress to a friend, or family member
  • Listen to music
  • Eat nutritious food
  • Exercise
  • Be mindful
  • Get better sleep

 

https://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/anxiety-epidemic-hits-american-college-students-at-campuses-nationwide/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml

https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2

https://www.healthline.com/health/10-ways-to-relieve-stress

 

 

 

Public Health is a journey; Let’s remember the path may be as important as the desitination

Graduation season is upon us, and this year I’m one of the people adding add extra letters behind their names.  During this transition, I find myself feeling like I’m standing on the top of a mountain. I’ve completed the climb that is my MPH program, and now I’m staring at what’s in front of me.

 

Mountain views are this special phenomenon where you can many destinations.  Because you can see them so clearly, they seem close and easily attainable.  However, only a few steps toward those goals means that you dip into lower elevations, and they hide below the treeline.  That doesn’t mean that the places don’t exist anymore.  It doesn’t mean that they’re unreachable.  It just means that you’ve got to have the tenacity to believe you can get to that destination without being able to see it clearly.  You may get glimpses every once in a while as you come to a clearing on the trail, but most of the time, you have to trust in yourself that your efforts will be successful and you can get there.

For me, this mountain hike can be a metaphor for public health.  We’re in the business of having the grand goal of healthy people and a healthy world, but the path forward requires a many small incremental changes- much like taking a hike through the woods. Even though we’re moving forward, we can’t always see the clear way forward.  We can’t watch our benchmark and measure how close we’re getting. We just have to trust that we’re getting there.  It can be frustrating to seem like that next peak keeps moving farther and farther away, but that does not take away from the experiences on our path.  Just as hikes through the woods may have small little “happys” like a serene lake, a gorgeous waterfall, or a baby fawn, our small public health victories should be celebrated as well.

As I face graduation, I see so many destinations that I could go, but I’m sure that it will be easy to get lost in the woods of bureaucracy.  My goal is to keep moving forward, and even if I don’t get to that next big public health breakthrough, I will still enjoy the small ways I can help along the way.

Lack of Diversity in Fashion: impacts on mental health

Today, when one looks through the catalogues and social media accounts of many well-known fashion brands, homogeneity can be expected. When focusing specifically on women’s fashion, there is a major issue of lack of representation in diversity of models. This applies to many fronts: lack of diversity in race, body size, body type, etc. Trans-women and women who don’t conform to gender “norms” are often excluded, and brands rarely depict models with visible health conditions and/or disabilities.

This lack of representation can have seriously negative impacts on the mental health of many people of different ages. Most often, models are skinny, tall, and white. When these are the only women being depicted in the media as desirable – it can weigh heavily on the shoulders of those who do not and cannot conform to these standards.

The good news: the tides seem to be changing. Certain brands have begun to combat these patterns in fashion branding. This is not in an attempt to tear current models down, but rather to lift women of all shapes, sizes, colors and statuses up. Aerie – a women’s clothing and lingerie brand – has taken on the frontline in this battle. In 2014, Aerie launched “AerieReal”, an admirable campaign to promote the beauty of all types of women in an untouched beauty campaign. Brands like Aerie serve as a beacon here and sets a positive example of how to better promote the physical and mental health of their customers.

https://www.entitymag.com/diversity-fashion-moves-slower-models-catwalk/

https://www.hercampus.com/school/western/fashion-and-mental-health

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/aerie-all-women-project-ad-diversity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVJDs9nVbsY

 

 

It’s Just a Pill

Addressing the opioid crisis requires organizations to get creative. With It’s Just a Pill, the Mountain Area Health Education Center in Asheville, North Carolina uses theater to educate school aged children about the dangers associated with opioid and substance misuse. In North Carolina, four people die from an overdose every day. Some estimates suggest that one in two high school students have tried an illegal drug before they graduate. Thus, it’s important to address opioid misuse not just with adults, but with children as well.

It’s Just a Pill does this through a children’s musical that features giant, dancing and singing pill bottles in addition to a cast of human characters. The musical was professionally directed and scored and lasts an hour. The play was written by Melody Hays, a healthcare education planner at MAHEC. The first run of the play included school performances in rural areas across North Carolina, and reached over 4,000 students, teachers, and parents.

If you are interested in learning more about the play or using it for your own work, then you’re in luck! MAHEC plans to make It’s Just a Pill available for use by anyone who wants to use this play as a prevention and awareness resource.

Disclaimer: The author of this article has working relationship with MAHEC. She was not compensated for or encouraged to write this article by MAHEC.

 

https://mahec.net/innovation-and-research/substance-use/its-just-a-pill

The (not so) Sweet Truth: Sugar Doesn’t Improve Your Mood

There’s a secret the sugar-sweetened beverage industry doesn’t want you to know: sugar doesn’t actually improve your mood. That pint of Ben and Jerry’s might be calling your name (it is mine!), but you won’t actually feel any better after eating it. New research, published on April 3rd, showed the results of 31 major studies conducted over the last 35 years and the results were overwhelming. Sugar consumption was not shown to increase: alertness, calmness, or contentedness. It was not shown to decrease: anger, confusion, tension, or depression. In fact, sugar consumption was related to decreased levels of alertness and higher levels of fatigue within the first hour after ingesting it.

The only time sugar consumption actually improved a person’s mood? After periods of exercise.

So go ahead, drink your Mountain Dew. Just go for a run first or be prepared to face the negative emotional effects from all of that sugar.

Or you can try one of these other things to improve your mood:

  • Spend some time in nature.
  • Listen to happy music.
  • Do something awe inspiring like watching the sunrise.
  • Find something to laugh about.
  • Exercise.
  • Give someone a hug.
  • Eat a healthy snack.
  • Spend time in the sun.
  • Think about something positive.
  • Spend some time with the people who make you happy.

Your body will thank you.

For more information, check out:

https://www.businessinsider.com/science-backed-ways-to-improve-your-mood-2016-1#get-some-sun-8

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.03.016

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190404104345.htm

Science Expo: Saturday April 6 from 11:00 to 4:00

What are you doing this Saturday?

If you are still looking for something that will be:

Free ☑

Outdoors ☑

Educational ☑

Fun ☑

Then come join us at the UNC 2019 Science Expo!

The science expo is this Saturday, April 6 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Cameron Avenue.

There are over 100 hands on activities, including making your own ice cream, looking at insects under a microscope, a “cold water” challenge, and making your own neuron model.

And this year, for the first time ever, there’s an outdoor classroom to engage your whole family. Figure out the cause of a mystery illness, build catapults, take a potato to space, or create some slimy oobleck! It’s up to you – but make sure to register at: http://moreheadplanetarium.org/uncsciexpo

This is your chance to get up close and personal with all the cutting edge science UNC has to offer. Speak with students, researchers, and professors about their research, grab some food from one of the food trucks on site, or just wander around.

We hope we’ll see you there!

Feeling Mad this March? Health Effects of Prolonged Anger

Here at UNC, March Madness is always a big deal.  In honor of the impending brackets, abundance of basketball, and other festivities, this post focuses on madness- specifically anger- and how it impacts your health.

 

While anger itself is a normal emotion and has some occasional benefits, prolonged anger can hurt your health and well-being.  It affects your physical health because anger increases blood pressure and heart rate, which can harm your heart over time.   It’s also been linked to depression, anxiety, insomnia, and decreased sexual performance.

If you find yourself feeling angry frequently, the Mayo Clinic offers these 10 tips to help temper your anger:

  1. Think before you speak
  2. Calm down and then express your anger
  3. Exercise
  4. Give yourself breaks- especially during stressful times
  5. Identify solutions to the problem
  6. Use “I” statements when speaking
  7. Forgive the one who angered you
  8. Diffuse tension with humor
  9. Use relaxation techniques like repeating a calming phrase, listening to music, or journaling
  10. Know when to seek help. Counseling may be helpful for you if you’re having trouble controlling your anger.

Remember, if your team doesn’t win the championship this year, don’t hold a grudge.  Your mind and body will thank you for it.

 

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/mind/articles/2017-10-26/the-physical-and-mental-toll-of-being-angry-all-the-time

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/anger-management/art-20045434

What’s Actually Bad For Our Skin?

In today’s age, it’s hard to keep up with what things are good for our skin, bad for our skin, or don’t affect it at all. Skin care is tied into beauty, and thus many people are often searching for a “secret trick” or “hack”. Due to this, many different products and techniques have been recommended. Many of these approaches have are rumored to provide drastic improvements in one’s skin clarity, texture, and overall health. Alongside these claims, we see many people generating fear around certain exposures, and it’s important to examine what can actually harm our skin.

There are many negative things in our lives that can have unexpected side effects. Stress, for one, can play a large role in the health of one’s skin. Experiencing excessive stress can prompt new outbreaks or aggravate pre-existing conditions, like psoriasis, eczema and hives. As many already know, smoking is a habit with many negative health outcomes. However, few often attribute smoking to skincare, and are unaware of the damage it can cause. Nicotine reduces blood flow to one’s skin, and thus smoker’s often have skin which is more wrinkled, thin and less likely to heal if injured.

Alongside these negative factors, there are those which are a bit more complicated. UV rays – coming from sunshine – are a mixed bag. A little sunlight is good for you, it prompts one’s skin to make Vitamin D, which is essential to many bodily processes. However, without proper protection , sunlight can be extremely damaging to skin. Excess exposure to UV rays can cause mutations in your DNA, which can later lead to cancer. Because of this, it’s important to wear protective sunscreen, clothing, and protective gear when exposing oneself to strong sunlight for long hours.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/27/health/skin-myths-truths-partner/index.html

https://www.webmd.com/beauty/the-effects-of-stress-on-your-skin

https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/bad-skin-habits#1

https://www.cancer.net/blog/2015-07/10-tips-protecting-your-skin-sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture of the North Carolina State flag in the shape of the state

NC Medicaid Expansion- A quick look at pros and cons

In North Carolina’s State of the State address Monday night, Governor Roy Cooper encouraged the state legislature to expand Medicaid.  Among other reasons,  he cited that North Carolinians federal tax dollars pay for Medicaid expansion in other states, so our residents should have access to those services as well.  Medicaid expansion has been on many people’s minds since the Affordable Care Act made it possible in 2014.  In honor of this, let’s highlight some of the arguments for and against it in North Carolina.

Against Expansion

For Expansion

These are some of the main pros and cons to Medicaid expansion.  What are some other arguments, both for and against, that you’ve heard?

 

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/ABC11/videos/261495221441061/

http://www.fiscalhealthnc.com/to_expand_or_not_to_expand_the_pros_and_cons_of_medicaid_expansion_in_nc

https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article224597675.html

https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2018/05/implications-of-state-medicaid-expansion.html

https://www.ncdp.org/our-values/health-care/

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1202099

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Movement Can Go A Long Way

In today’s society, we can access so many resources without having to put in any real effort.

Everything is available in an instant via our smartphones.  We used to have to go to the store to buy household goods, now we can have them delivered to our doorstep the same day by Amazon.  We used to have to go to the bank to deposit a check, now we can take a picture of a check on our smartphone and the money will be deposited moments later.

We barely have to move a finger anymore, but it’s actually in our best interest that we do keep moving (fingers, toes, arms, legs, etc.).

It is estimated that 322 million people worldwide live with depression.  Pulling yourself away from society’s convenience tools and getting in a little physical activity daily can help to protect your mental health.

While previous research only showed physical activity and depression were linked, a recent New York Times article highlighted an innovative study by Choi et. al (2019) found that simple physical activities — jogging for 15 minutes or simpler activities like walking, gardening, or doing housework for closer to an hour — can actually protect against developing depression.

If you are considering suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available by phone 24-hours per day by just calling 1-800-273-8255.

If you’re a UNC student struggling with depression, UNC offers counseling and psychological services through the UNC CAPS program.

 

We all deserve the ability to be happy without depression getting in the way.

– Alex Kresovich

For more information, check out:

Choi, K. W., Chen, C. Y., Stein, M. B., Klimentidis, Y. C., Wang, M. J., Koenen, K. C., & Smoller, J. W. (2019). Assessment of bidirectional relationships between physical activity and depression among adults: a 2-sample mendelian randomization study. JAMA psychiatry.