Clean Air Month

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Clean Air Month

Take a deep breath and smell the trees and spring air. May is Clean Air Month. Clean air has a natural balance of gases such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen. The Clean Air Act started in 1970 and has been successfully reducing air quality related to premature death and health conditions.

The four key climate change that impacts the influence social determinants of health includes: rising sea levels and flooding, extreme temperatures, extreme natural disasters and weather along with air quality and pollution. Social determinants of mental and physical well-being can make a big difference depending on the quality of life and health. Some examples of this could be access to nature or neighborhood safety, or availability to local healthy foods. Almost 4 out of 10 people live in a place that pollution levels are too dangerous to breathe safely.

The University of Washington found that higher levels of air pollution have a greater impact on mental health. Air pollution is associated with behavior changes because people spend less time outside which creates a more sedentary lifestyle. This lifestyle can be related to social isolation or distress.In 2016, there was an environmental research review that concluded even though more research is needed exposure to air pollution has an increased risk of autism.

Rush University Medical Center researchers studied the cognitive (the brain processes such as remembering, reasoning, and thinking) effects of air pollution. The most dangerous kind of air pollution is fine particulate matter because it is smaller, found in motor vehicle exhaust, along with the public transportation exhaust such as buses and trains. Smaller particles infiltrate the body which gets into the lungs then into the blood system. When this matter is inhaled, attaches to the nerve endings in the nasal cavities, then it travels to the brain.

These are things we can do to help control or prevent air pollution: reduce car usage; keep your vehicles well-maintained which reduces harmful exhaust emissions; avoid burning candles, at home; say no to plastic or reduce, recycle, reuse; plant more trees and grass to limit bare soil areas which reduces dust in the air; and quit smoking.

Alcohol Awareness Month

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Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This is a disease that is not pinpointed by factors like sex, race, genetics, or socioeconomics as a single case but behavioral, psychological and genetic factors can contribute to having this disease. Alcoholism changes the neurochemistry and brain, which is why a person with this addiction may not be able in control of their actions. The severity of alcohol addiction varies from person to person. There are some people that drink heavily all day and there are others that will stay sober for a while the binge drink.

There are many different factors that can increase the risk of a person turning to alcohol and eventually developing a dependency on alcohol. They can range from:

Relieving Stress: As a sedative and depressant, alcohol produces feelings of pleasure but this can also build a tolerance requiring the need to consume more alcohol for the same amount of pleasure.

Trauma: Some people treat unresolved trauma through excessive drinking.

Lack of Connection: Some people feel alcohol will make it easier to forge new bonds or feel the void of feeling inadequately connected to others.

Coping with Loss: Depending on alcohol some people feel that it can help ease their grief in difficult times but even if it’s temporary it can spiral into a drinking problem.

Some of the more common warning signs of alcoholism include: not being able to control their alcohol consumption; spending a lot of money on alcohol; craving to drink alcohol even when the person is not drinking; having the need to keep drinking more; personal responsibilities being ignored to drink alcohol more; and acting differently after drinking.One of the biggest decisions someone with an alcohol addiction will face is deciding to seek help. The 3 phrases Alcohol treatment is broken into detoxification (this should be completed by professionals), rehabilitation (this can be either inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab), and maintenance (this could include counseling, support groups, or recovery resources).

Brain Injury Awareness Month

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Brain Injury Awareness Month

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and the campaign theme is #Change Your Mind. The campaign is helping to raise awareness and de-stigmatizing brain injury through outreach within the brain community, promoting the different types of available support for people living with a brain injury, and empowering the survivors of brain injury and their caregivers.

Every 9 seconds someone sustains a brain injury in the United States, which makes up more than 3.5 million children and adults. An acquired brain injury (ABI) is not induced by birth trauma, congenital, hereditary, or is not degenerative and is most often associated with pressure on the brain. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by an external force which damages the skull or causes the brain to move inside the skull.

The typical causes of acquired brain injury are: poisoning or exposure to toxic substances, infection, strangulation, choking, drowning, tumors, heart attacks, strokes, abuse of illegal drugs, neurological illnesses, and aneurysms.

The typical causes of traumatic brain injury are: car accidents, blows to the head, sports injuries, accidents or falls, and physical violence.

Some physical symptoms of brain damage could include persistent headaches, tremors, extreme mental and physical fatigue, sensitivity to light, paralysis, slurred speech, sleep disorders, and loss of consciousness.

Some emotional and behavioral symptoms could include reduced tolerance for stress, sluggishness, denial of disability, increased aggressiveness, flattened or heightened emotions or reactions, and irritability and impatience.

Some ways to possibly reduce the risk of brain damage is: never shake a child, install window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows, wear helmets while cycling or during sports, install shock-absorbing material on playgrounds, if you have a gun keep it unloaded and locked away, wear seatbelts in cars, drive safely, install and use handrails on stairways, don’t use illegal drugs, drink alcohol in moderation but never drink alone and avoid falls by using a stepstool when reaching for high items.

International Boost Self-Esteem Month

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International Boost Self-Esteem Month

February 2019 – Help Avoid Clinical Depression. Our self-esteem is something that is always changing throughout our lives. A healthy self-esteem can improve your mental health. If someone is suffering from existing severe mental health struggles like anxiety and depression, a boost in their self-esteem can possibly increase their feelings of worth and help manage feelings of emptiness and sadness.

It is good to pay attention to your “self-talk.” Sometimes we are very critical of ourselves and others. Once you are aware of negative self-talk, you can you can challenge those thoughts when they arise.

One thing to help boost your self-esteem is to accept your flaws. We have to remember to separate the flaws that are unchangeable from ones we can work on. Accepting a flaw doesn’t mean that you like your flaw, it just means you have chosen to not let something you cannot change control you.

Another way to boost your self-esteem is to celebrate your personal strengths and practice gratitude. You could incorporate 5 minutes into your daily life to reflect on your personal strengths. These strengths could range from not only who you are physically but also your relationships, your personality, and your abilities. This can be how you are a caretaker of people and/or animals, how people come to you because you will make them laugh, or how you show people in your life that you love them.

Practicing self-care is another excellent way to boost your self-esteem. Self-care is a difficult practice and we find reasons why we don’t do it or as often as we should. Self-care requires you to focus on yourself and your needs which includes having sufficient sleep, proper mind and body nourishment, and doing what provides you with a sense of peace and well-being.

Human Trafficking Prevention Month

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Human Trafficking Prevention Month

January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month. As of June 30, 2018, North Carolina reported 14,117 calls and 5,147 human trafficking case. Attorney General Josh Stein noted that North Carolina had 258 reported cases of human trafficking in 2017. In 2016, The National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 182 cases in 2016 and North Carolina was ranked 10th in reported human trafficking cases.

California, Texas, and New York are the three states with the highest human trafficking activity. California cities Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco are 3 of the 10 worst child sex trafficking areas.

On January 17, 2018 the Fayetteville Observer reported that “more than half of all human trafficking cases filed in state court during the last fiscal year occurred in Cumberland County”. The article explores how the proximity to Interstate 95 and Fort Bragg, in addition to the opioid crisis, makes Cumberland County more vulnerable to this type of crime. The reported numbers involving victims also reflects the diligent police work that is happening in Cumberland County, according to the article. Pitt, Forsyth, Wake, Johnston, Nash, Wilson, Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender, Onslow and Craven are the other counties listed for having human trafficking cases within the recorded year.

The NC Human Trafficking Task Force Manual

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