May is Mental Health Month

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May is Mental Health Month

Mental Health Month was established in 1949 to celebrate recovery from mental illness and increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in all lives. This month raises awareness of trauma and helps to reduce the stigma so many people experience. Mental Health Month highlights the impact trauma can have on communities, children, and families’ emotional, physical, and mental well-being.

Maternal mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders affect 1 in 5 women and are prominent in pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum complications. Women at an increased risk of maternal mental health may have a personal or family history of mental illness; may lack social support, especially from their partner; may have experienced traumatic birth or previous trauma in their lives; may have a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Maternal mental health challenges are temporary and treatable with proper care. Recovery from maternal mental health includes social support, self-care, medication, and talk therapy, as a combination approach.

Child and adolescent mental health are also essential to consider during this month. 1 in 7 children and adolescents aged ten to nineteen years old experience mental health conditions, but these largely remain unrecognized and untreated. Emotional, social, and physical changes, including exposure to abuse, poverty, or crime, can make adolescents vulnerable to mental health problems. Anxiety, depression, and behavioral disorders are the leading causes of disability and illness among adolescents. Children and adolescents can feel supported about their diagnosis by the people in their lives learning about their diagnosis, exploring stress management techniques, and praising the child’s abilities and strengths.

Mental health prevention and promotion interventions aim to strengthen an individual’s capacity to regulate emotions, build resilience for managing difficult situations and adversity, enhance alternatives to risk-taking behaviors and promote supportive social environments and social networks. Enhance alternatives to risk-taking behaviors and promote supportive social environments and social networks.

National Healthcare Decisions Day

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National Healthcare Decisions Day

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is represented annually in April and is an initiative created to inspire, educate, and empower the public about the importance of advance care planning. NHDD was designed to encourage someone to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever those wishes might be.

The pandemic has been a reminder that healthcare affects everyone of all ages. It impacts that patient, the person’s family, and the facility taking care of the person. The focus on advance care planning has been highlighted through these unique times.

Advanced care planning includes completing an advance directive (living will), appointing a healthcare power of attorney (someone to make healthcare decisions if the person can not speak for themselves), and the person sharing their choices with their family and loved ones.

Another aspect of advanced care planning is Psychiatric Advanced Directives (PADs). PADs are legal documents detailing a person’s preference for future mental health treatment, including specific choices about medications and hospitalizations and the refusal of consent to either. PADs help the person identify an individual to make treatment decisions if that person is in a crisis and unable to make decisions. In NC, PADs are also known as an “Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment .”An Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment remains valid until the person who created it revokes it.

There are numerous benefits to having and completing advanced care directives, including enabling proper care and possibly preventing involuntary treatment. When families are informed, and up to date on a person’s advanced care directives, the family can better advocate for their loved ones.

Sleep Awareness Week is March 13 – 19, 2022

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Sleep Awareness Week is March 13 – 19, 2022

Sleep Awareness Week is March 13 – 19, 2022, and it is a period to use as a call to action for personal well-being. It is the perfect time for everyone to recognize the importance of sleep as a crucial measure of overall health and wellness.

Please use this vital reminder to implement healthy sleeping habits and reflect on practices to help you have a good night’s rest. It is not a coincidence that sleep awareness week begins on March 13th, which is the beginning date of Daylight-Saving Time, when most Americans change their clocks and lose an hour of sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation stresses that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night and any less could pose serious consequences to a person’s health and safety. Sleep helps people recover from illness or injury, cope with stress, and solve problems. Common sleep-wake disorders include insomnia (having problems falling or staying asleep which can lead to anxiety and depression), nightmares (this usually happens during Rapid Eye Movement sleep and brings up feelings of distress or terror generally related to a traumatic event), sleep terrors (any single image memory – not like a nightmare but these single images can be so terrifying that you may shake or scream. When the sleep terror ends, you calm down and return to normal sleep.)

The complex relationship between sleep and psychiatric disorders means that treatment for both issues can go hand-in-hand. There are steps to improve sleep which may even form part of a preventive mental health strategy. A medical doctor or psychiatrist can review the potential benefits and risks of different types of treatments, including prescription medications. They can provide tailored care, including in situations with multiple co-occurring physical or mental health issues. Good sleeping habits, relaxation techniques, sleep restriction (limiting the amount of time in bed) and exercise are treatment options for sleep..

February 14th is Designated Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day.

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February 14th is Designated Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day.

February 14th is designated Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day. This is an annual campaign to remember and honor anyone born with a heart defect. This campaign also honors all of the families and friends touched by children with heart defects along with the medical professionals caring for and conducting research to treat and prevent children born with heart defects.

1 out of every 100 newborns are affected by Congenital Heart Defects / Disease. CHDs are conditions that are present at birth and can affect the structure of a baby’s heart and how that baby’s heart works. These conditions can range from a small hole in the heart (considered mild) to missing or poorly formed parts of the heart (severe). Generally, the cause of CHD is not known but if a child has CHD is becomes evident during the first few months after birth during a routine medical checkup. Some babies have very low blood pressure shortly after birth and some babies have breathing difficulties, poor weight gain, or feeding problems.

An article published in Everyday Health noted “pediatricians should consider screening children with CHD and other chronic health illnesses for mental health problems”. This article also stated CHD patients are significantly more likely to have depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than children not diagnosed with CHD. Dr. Lopez reported “that non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and Asian American children were significantly less likely to be diagnosed or treated for anxiety and depression than white children, despite the fact that the prevalence of these conditions are thought to be the same across all races and ethnicities in the general population”. Most children with simple defects survive into adulthood. Their exercise capacity may be limited, but these children grow up to live normal or nearly normal lives. Children who had more complex problems had more developmental delay or other learning difficulties.

January is Designated National Blood Donor Month

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January is Designated National Blood Donor Month

This is to honor voluntary blood donors while encouraging more people to give more blood. According to the American Red Cross, the winter is “one of the most difficult times of the year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs.” People stop donating blood during the holidays and during the cold and flu season because more people get sick.

Blood is needed every two seconds in the U.S. to help patients battling illness and injury. COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise across the US and blood, platelet and plasma donations are continuing to be tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

For a limited time, the American Red Cross is including sickle cell trait screening on all self-identified African American donors. Compatible blood types can be identified quicker. This helps sickle cell patients and African American donors have additional health insight regarding their health information. But, this testing does not diagnose sickle cell disease.

Everyone can still donate blood as long as you don’t have symptoms of COVID-19, feel well and after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. You will need to know and be able to give the name of your COVID-19 vaccine’s manufacturer ( Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer).

Giving blood can help your mental state by providing an altruistic interaction resulting from doing something good for someone else. Donating blood has shown to have a positive effect of greater happiness and better health. The happiness level is increased through shifting aspirations and empathic emotions. Donating blood reduces stress, enhances emotional well-being, minimizes negative thoughts and feelings and provides a sense of belonging while reducing feelings of social isolation.

December is National National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month

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December is National National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month

December is National 3D Month or National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month, which stemmed from MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), and the mission statement expanded to include drug-impaired driving. This particular month was selected due to the spike in traffic-related deaths between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

At the beginning of this year’s holiday shopping, there was a decrease in online purchases and an increase in face-to-face purchases, which reflects that many people are interested in being around others verses than being online. It can also be an educated guess that there is probably an increase in social gatherings with the options of drinking or using drugs since social groups or anything face-to-face was not encouraged last year.

North Carolina is one of the eighteen states that adopted the standard; if any detectable amount of controlled substance is found in a driver’s system, other than legally prescribed medicine, the driver will be charged with drugged driving. Compared to drunk driving, drivers are allowed a small amount of alcohol in their system and can still drive.

Anxiety, depression, PTSD, conduct disorder, anti-social personality disorder, and stress are some factors that may contribute to drunk and drugged driving.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a short-term, solution-oriented approach to help identify negative thoughts/behaviors and replace them with positive thoughts/behaviors. Motivational Interviewing is also a brief-client-centered approach concentrating on improving and strengthening a client’s motivation for change. This specific technique is selected when someone is less motivated or ready for a change in parallel with other therapy modalities.

The engagement of these two common modalities can help someone make better choices to avoid drunk and drugged driving.