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Kanye West’s TimesTalks on mental health with Charlamagne tha God canceled


Kanye West gives a 10-minute monologue in the White House Oval Office during his visit with President Donald Trump and NFL legend Jim Brown.

Kanye West continues to face backlash from his bizarre week. 

“Breakfast Club” radio host Charlamagne tha God canceled his upcoming TimesTalks with the controversial rapper, saying it wouldn’t be ”productive.” The two were set to chat Wednesday in New York City about the negative stigma surrounding mental health within the black community.

“Normalizing being mentally healthy is a conversation that I really wanted to have with Kanye because he’s been so vocal about his own mental health struggles,” Charlamagne wrote on an Instagram post Monday. His message was attached with an event flyer reading ”CANCELLED.”

The radio host continued: “Unfortunately I think to have that conversation with him right now would not be productive and a total distraction from the point of the convo which is to eradicate the stigma of mental health especially in the black community.”

Related: Kanye West returns to Twitter with a ‘mind control’ rant after one-week hiatus

The New York Times, which sponsors the show, reflected the change of plans on its website: “Charlamagne tha God and Kanye West have cancelled their appearance for a TimesTalks scheduled for October 17.”

The cancellation come less than a week after West’s highly publicized meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, a spontaneous trip to Uganda and the rapper’s return to Twitter to with a rant about “mind control.” 

Although Charlamagne did not list specific reasons on how the TimesTalks “would not be productive,” the state of West’s mental health has been called into question  by some social media users following his odd behavior. 

Related: Kanye West gifts Uganda’s president a pair of sneakers during visit

During a bizarre monologue in the Oval Office last week, Kanye announced that he had been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was actually merely sleep deprived. 

He doubled down on this claim during an equally peculiar rant on Twitter Saturday, adding he isn’t crazy like the media is portraying him to be: “It’s all part of a system to control your mind. To control my mind. To make me look like I’m crazy to you. I am not crazy. I can ramp up if I suffer from sleep deprivation.”

West’s continued antics have been met with backlash by the black community, including rapper T.I., who said he was “ashamed to have ever been associated with you.”

Related:T.I. slams Kanye West over Trump meeting: ‘I’m ashamed to have ever been associated with you’

This wouldn’t have been the first time West and Charlamagne have talked mental health. In May, the rapper revealed to Charlamagne that the robbery his wife, Kim Kardashian West, endured contributed to his downward spiral in 2016 – which resulted in hospitalization – and shed light on his relationship with Jay-Z and admiration for President Trump.

More: Kanye West: I was ‘drugged out’ on opioids leading up to 2016 hospitalization

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  • Ye, Yeezy, Yeezuswhatever you call him, Feb. 11 is1 of 24
  • Before Yeezy, there was 'Louis Vuitton Don.' Yes, that's2 of 24
  • In 2005, we were all jamming out to 'Gold Digger' and3 of 24
  • Kanye's music was so hot, he needed shades to shield4 of 24
  • After losing his mom and spitting with fiance Alexis5 of 24
  • We'll never forget that time he stole the mic from6 of 24
  • Dabbling in the likes of style, design and fashion,7 of 24
  • Kanye raps, I fell in love with Kim on 'Cruel Summer,'8 of 24
  • Kanye earned a new nickname with the release of his9 of 24
  • After welcoming his first child, daughter North, in10 of 24
  • 'Kimye,' as the couple have long been called, aren't11 of 24
  • 2016 was a tumultuous year for the rapper. It started12 of 24
  • Fall 2016 saw him embark on an eye-popping concert13 of 24
  • But on Oct. 3, Kanye had to leave a New York music14 of 24
  • In mid-November, he drew ire when he told an audience15 of 24
  • Days later, he went on a rant about Beyonc and Jay16 of 24
  • On Nov. 21, he abruptly canceled the remainder of his17 of 24
  • FILE - In this Dec. 13, 2016, file photo, President-elect18 of 24
  • NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 12: Kanye West is seen out in Manhattan19 of 24
  • Rapper Kanye West watches during the second half of20 of 24
  • The family expanded again in January 2018 when Chicago21 of 24
  • In May, West was back to causing controversy. In an22 of 24
  • In September, he announced he was moving back to Chicago,23 of 24
  • On Oct. 11, he joined his brother President Trump24 of 24


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Report: World Support For Mental Health Care Is ‘Pitifully Small’

An illustration.

An illustration.

It’s a major milestone in the fight to recognize mental health and mental illness as global issues: a comprehensive report from the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health, three years in the making, released this past week at a London summit with royals Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, in attendance to show their support for the cause.

But it was not a celebratory event. Threaded throughout the 45-page report is a lament that the world is ignoring millions of suffering people.

That neglect is reflected in “pitifully small” levels of financial support from governments and assistance groups for research and patient care, say the 28 mental health researchers, clinicians and advocates from across five continents who authored the report. And there are far-reaching economic as well as psychological consequences, the report notes: Untreated patients are often unable to support themselves, and sometimes their caretakers can’t work as well.

The situation is especially dire in low-income countries, where mental health care is often unavailable. Only one in 27 people with depression in developing countries receives adequate treatment, according to the report. Developed countries do a bit better – one in five people with depression get treatment. But overall, wealthier countries have a poor enough record of providing adequate services that the report states that “all countries can be thought of as developing countries in the context of mental health.”

It’s not as if the extent of the problem was unknown. In the mid-1990s, the first Global Burden of Disease study noted that of the top ten causes of disability worldwide, five were mental illnesses. Mental health researchers had little to offer at the time in terms of proven inexpensive treatments. But researchers since then have demonstrated that diseases such as depression and substance abuse can often be accurately identified and treated by community health workers with talk therapy. With light guidance from a mental health specialist, these community health workers can even help some people with schizophrenia learn to live with their disease.

Neighbors Treating Neighbors For Depression And Alcoholism

The report calls for more reliance on community health workers, greater attention to stigma, a broader definition of mental illness to include mental health, a search for ways to create resilience in currently healthy people and the use of technology tools, like cellphones for diagnosis and therapy.

The big problem is money. The Commission notes the availability of funding is “alarmingly low,” citing a comparison between how much was spent on other diseases in 2013 and how much was spent on mental illnesses. It found that for every year of healthy life lost because of a mental illness, global health donors provided 85 cents in assistance. But for HIV/AIDS, there was $144 for every year of healthy life lost, and $48 for TB and malaria.

So why the lack of investment?

Psychiatrist Julian Eaton, a commissioner who co-directs the global mental health division of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says at least part of the reason is a slow acceptance of the high incidence of mental illness and of people disabled by it. Cultural sensitivity may also be holding back investment. “In the academic world there has been an ongoing sometimes quite angry debate about whether it’s appropriate to export Western ideas about mental ill health to other countries,” Eaton says.

Meanwhile, what the commissioners call “multiple transitions” are creating greater need for prevention and treatment programs. Pandemics, wars, poverty, economic and political uncertainties, the increased incidence of natural disasters and the environmental disruptions of climate change are creating enormous psychological stresses that can lead to poor mental health.

Another powerful impediment to financing is stigma. It’s on pretty much every commissioner’s list. Janice Cooper, who runs the Carter Center’s mental health center in Liberia, says it’s a problem in both developed and developing countries — and on many levels. “There’s ignorance, there’s the perception of contagion, there’s the notion that in some quarters this is not important,” she says.

For commissioner Pamela Collins, who heads the global mental health program at the University of Washington, there’s also an informational issue. “Many people believe these are disorders of high-income countries, and they don’t think of these as problems for low- and middle-income countries,” she says. And she’s concerned that people forget that some of these conditions are lethal. Worldwide there are 800,000 deaths a year from suicide, most often a result of depression.

A group of 15 youth leaders from around the world, many of whom have personal experience with mental illness, were recruited by the Commission to carry its messages onto social media and get young people talking about mental health issues. Twenty-five-year-old Grace Catera is one of the 15 members. The conflict in her native Rwanda left Catera with PTSD that led to two suicide attempts. Catera says governments can be blinded by other problems: “It’ll be like let’s deal with this crisis and deal with the crisis that comes after that and maybe when we get time we’ll talk about mental health.”

Other commissioners said that politicians don’t feel any pressure from people with mental illnesses or their advocates, and there’s no strong lobby supporting people with mental illnesses.

Vikram Patel, the co-head of the commission and head of the global mental health program at Harvard University, says it’s high time for foundations to jump in. “We know how to promote mental health, we know how to prevent mental health problems and we know how to enable recovery,” he says. Help couldn’t come soon enough for the commissioners. They predict that between 2010 and 2030, mental illnesses will cost the global economy trillions of dollars in health-care spending as well as in lost wages and productivity.

But the nature of mental illnesses themselves may be scaring foundations away, says Julian Eaton. “People probably quite legitimately think that mental ill health is more complex than infectious diseases or broken bones.” With vaccines, one shot costs a set amount, and a person is protected for life. Not so with mental illnesses. “Talking about the big funds, and the Gates Foundation is a classic example, investors want to know how much it costs,” he says. While inexpensive treatments have been developed, how long people will need to use them is an open question.

The Gates Foundation (a supporter of NPR and this blog) does not fund mental illness research or care though it does fund studies on the cognitive development of children. In a statement to NPR, global health chief Trevor Mundel says, “There is no question that mental health disorders are a significant cause of death and disability, and more investment is needed.” But the foundation focuses on infectious diseases, he notes, “because there is still a huge disparity between the burden of infectious disease in developing countries and wealthy countries, and we believe that our support can play a catalytic role in closing major gaps in global health equity.”

With all the reasons given by the commissioners, though, there was some optimism in the room. After all, they had received support for their summit from several international and British government organizations as well as some private ones. Commissioner Julian Eaton was heartened by the increasing number of people willing to talk about mental illness and like pretty much everyone else at the meeting was thrilled when the royals showed up.

“But people are yet to sign the checks,” he says.

Joanne Silberner, a former health policy correspondent for NPR, is a freelance journalist living in London.

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What You Can Do To Control How Your Health And Medical Data Is Used

Digital health lawyer Jodi Daniel answers questions about what people can do to control how our medical and health data is used, as smart watches, fitness trackers and other devices gain popularity.

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Don’t trust Donald Trump, Republicans on health care: Readers sound off

Letter to the editor:

President Donald Trump’s column in USA TODAY on “Medicare for All” is an attempt to fool the entire nation and distract from the repeated sabotage of the Affordable Care Act that he and Republicans continue to push despite their constituents’ loud protests.

From refusing to defend protections for people with pre-existing conditions to expanding junk insurance plans that hurt consumers and don’t even offer coverage of basic services, Trump and the GOP have done everything in their power to undermine the ACA. 

Access to affordable health care is a top concern for voters of both parties ahead of midterm elections, but congressional Republicans and Trump have only worked to undercut that access. Trump’s column isn’t about preserving health care; it’s just another desperate attempt at fear-mongering, as voters repeatedly voice their concerns.

Margarida Jorge, strategic consultant for Health Care For America Now; Washington, D.C.

Talker: Donald Trump knows nothing about Medicare, health care or Democrats

Trump won’t fool us on health care

Letter to the editor:

President Donald Trump’s recent column attacking “Medicare for All” is laughable. Here are the real facts: Since taking office, Trump has done everything in his power to strip health care from millions of hardworking American families and seniors.

Unlike Trump, I’ve actually worked in health care. I know what happens when people go without care. Still today, I see cancer patients struggling to get the care they need. And when it comes to health policy, that’s the lens that my Democratic colleagues and I use. Sadly, for my Republican colleagues, it’s a lens of profits. They are wholly committed to making the most money possible off the sick and dying. 

Trump’s “think piece” is nothing more than a sad attempt to rebrand his and congressional Republicans’ repeated attempts to take health care away from Americans. 

Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust; Washington, D.C.

Thinking like a Republican. Nah.

Letter to the editor:

What will they attack Brett Kavanaugh with next? Parking tickets in his past? Who cares if he allegedly assaulted girls when he was a teen? Stuff happens! 

Before you know it, Democrats will say he committed perjury. Well, he’s a Supreme Court justice now! Kavanaugh is allowed to commit perjury as much as he wants.

Related: I’m a liberal, Democratic teenager in a family of pro-Trump partisans. Don’t worry, I’m safe.

Next thing you know, the evil press and Democrats will say Kavanaugh not answering questions in a federal hearing, while under oath, is contempt of Congress and obstruction of justice. I mean, hello! He’s allowed to violate any laws he wants. So what if a newly confirmed justice is a total liar? That’s not enough to keep him off the most powerful court in the U.S.

This is the last time I try to walk a mile in my opponents’ shoes. I’m going to need to take a hundred showers to wash the Republican mindset off of me.

Mildred Manham; New York

Trump, Republicans needed Kavanaugh

Letter to the editor:

The Federalist Society made it perfectly clear that it had no favorites or preferences among those on the list of judges recommended to President Donald Trump, which means that Judge Brett Kavanaugh was not its first choice or top preference.

It is 100 percent irrational and entirely ridiculous for Trump and the Republicans to have “died on that hill” when it came to Kavanaugh. Surely, somebody else that the Federalist Society recommended would have wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade and been more open to states’ rights on different issues, such as gay marriage and gerrymandering.

But if you believe, as I do, that not only is Trump afraid of special counsel Robert Mueller, but Republicans as a whole are too, you’ll then begin to see that Kavanaugh was needed to protect both Trump and the GOP because Russian collusion probably runs deep and Trump is likely not alone in this. 

Jeremy Levine; Union, N.J.

Trump’s recklessness

Letter to the editor:

In USA TODAY’s article, “Trump says those who made ‘false statements’ about Kavanaugh ‘should be held liable’,” when President Donald Trump states that those who accuse others of sexual assault “can destroy somebody’s life,” the same can be said about the lives of sexual assault victims.

More: I am a sexual assault survivor, and I don’t want you to just take my word for it

I wonder whether Trump is thinking about what he is saying, as well as considering the effect his words have on people. I believe there is a chance his words will discourage victims from reporting sexual assault because they may think they will be blamed — and that it will make it harder for people in high positions, as well as anyone in general, to be accused and proven guilty of sexual assault.

Sarah Whittum; San Francisco

Sen. Jeff Flake is still popular with me

Letter to the editor:

I am proud to say I am among the recently reported estimated 30 percent in Arizona who still admire Republican Sen. Jeff Flake. Since Donald Trump’s election, Flake is challenged by our president’s actions. As a lifelong Republican, I wish that more members of my party could make a distinction and praise Trump for his good decisions, but also recognize that much of his behavior is not an example for others.

More: Democrats have unleashed a red wave of Kavanaugh-believing women voters

Flake is one of the few senior leaders in our party who regularly make this distinction. Honor should be placed above policy, and I thank Jeff for holding Trump’s feet to the fire on issues of honor and integrity.

Roy Miller; Phoenix

To join the conversations about topics on USA TODAY, email, comment on Facebook, or use #tellusatoday on Twitter.

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Health care disappears from some campaign ads

WASHINGTON — The last four national elections have been dominated by discussion of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and particularly by Republicans’ attacks on it. But a funny thing has happened on the way to Election Day 2018: The ACA has gone missing and health care has become a Democratic issue in campaign ads this midterm season.

The numbers tell the story of how health care has morphed into something new this election cycle, a Republican liability centered on the topic of pre-existing conditions and health conditions that predate someone’s insurance coverage.

An analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project found that in early September nearly half of all Democratic TV ads in House races, 44 percent, discussed health care in some way. It was the number one issue topic in those races. That was true of only 34 percent of House Republican races.

In Senate races the divide was even starker. There, health care was also number one topic, with 50 percent of all the TV ads in Democratic campaigns addressing it, according to the Wesleyan data. For Republican Senate campaigns, the number didn’t even crack the top five issues.

A close look at some key Senate races, using Advertising Analytics, shows how these numbers are playing on the ground. You can see the story in Arizona and West Virginia — states on opposite sides of the country, with very different races.

In Arizona, Democrats are trying to flip the Republican seat currently held by retiring Sen. Jeff Flake and turning to health care.

Since Sept. 1, 12 ads have aired in the Arizona Senate race that touched on health care. In 11 of those ads there was a direct mention of pre-existing conditions and 10 of them supported the Democratic candidate, Kyrsten Sinema. The primary claim being that her Republican opponent, Rep. Martha McSally, wants to deny coverage of the health problems.

At the same time, the one pro-Republican healthcare ad in that time attempted to rebut Sinema’s claims, arguing that McSally has voted to preserve the coverage of pre-existing conditions.

About 2,000 miles away in West Virginia, a state President Donald Trump won by 40 points, incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is trying to hold onto his seat with a similar approach.

That race has seen 10 ads in that race on health care since Sept. 1. Eight of those ads mention pre-existing conditions and all of them support Manchin and/or attack his Republican opponent Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

In fact, pre-existing conditions are at the center of Manchin’s favorite campaign ad device, shooting stacks of paper he doesn’t like with a rifle. In 2012, Manchin made an ad that centered on him putting a bullet through the “Cap and Trade” that he said would hurt the coal industry. This fall he is shooting “Patrick Morrisey’s lawsuit to take healthcare from those with pre-existing conditions.”

And those states are just two examples. Dig into the ad data across the country and you’ll see similar approaches in House and Senate races with by Democrats thrusting the issue out and Republicans attempting to parry.

All the back-and-forth over pre-existing conditions, has fundamentally changed the way the parties talk about the Affordable Care Act. The health insurance law that the GOP labeled Obamacare, was a favorite target of the GOP in the 2010 and 2014 midterms (and the presidential races in 2012 and 2016), but it has waned this cycle, according to an analysis this week from the Wall Street Journal.

Between January and September of 2010 and 2014, Republicans and those who support them ran more than 10 times the number of anti-ACA ads as Democrats and their supporters ran pro-ACA ads. This year the script is flipped. In 2018, Democrats and their supporters are running more than twice as many pro-ACA ads as Republicans are running against Obamacare.

And when you explore the ads, the ACA has largely become an afterthought. Democrats want to talk about covering those with pre-existing conditions and Republicans are running against the threat of single-payer health care.

The numbers serve as a reminder of two important points, not only for 2018, but for 2020 and beyond.

First, despite a political environment that’s focused heavily on the partisan debate inside Washington — everything from Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Russia investigation — outside of D.C. candidates and voters are focused on bread-and-butter issues.

And second, the frame around an issue can change quickly. Just because one party owns an issue or topic this fall may not mean much for the campaigns ahead.

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As Blue Wave Crests, Health Insurers Brace For ‘Medicare For All’ Push

Attendees hold signs while waiting for a health care bill news conference to begin on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Inside the headquarters of the nation’s health insurance lobbies, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans, an increasing amount of time and money is being spent preparing for the coming debates in Washington and on the presidential campaign trail over “Medicare for All.”

The effort to bring popular coverage for seniors 65 and over to all Americans has long been an elusive goal of progressives and some Democrats in Congress, who almost a decade ago settled for expansion of taxpayer-funded health benefits via private insurers when President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010.

While Democrats and progressives praise Obama and the ACA for bringing coverage to more than 20 million Americans, they want more. And they are emboldened by rising popularity of a single-payer approach given healthcare costs have continued to rise and millions remain uncovered by existing forms of health insurance. It’s unclear exactly what kind of Medicare for All proposal will advance or whether it would bring an end to insurers being involved in administering government-subsidized health benefits.

Still, supporters of Medicare for All are worried about the war chest the health insurance industry is already bringing to the debate even before the next Congress convenes after November’s midterm elections and the field of candidates is set to battle Donald Trump should he run for re-election in 2020.

“The lobbying push, including television ads and other scare tactics that the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries will use to protect their ability to keep profiting from our fragmented health care system, will dwarf their attacks on health reform efforts of the past,” Eagan Kemp, health care policy advocate for Public Citizen said last week in a statement accompanying a report on the healthcare industry’s lobbying clout. “The upcoming debate will test whether our elected officials are finally ready to stand up for their constituents instead of defending self-interested, parasitic corporations that ply them with campaign contributions as long as they keep the health care spending spigot flowing.”

Both the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans, known in Washington as “AHIP,” are already listed as funders of The Partnership For America’s Health Care Future, which is expected to be the vehicle used to attack Medicare for All or similar proposals that would uproot private insurer involvement in administering government health benefits.

The lobbies historically don’t put the names of their members companies out there when pushing for or against one policy or another. AHIP includes Anthem, Cigna, Centene, Molina Healthcare, Oscar Health and WellCare Health Plans.

AHIP wouldn’t say how much the association is spending on the effort to fight Medicare for All. “Certainly we’re paying close attention to any conversation about Medicare for All and similar proposals,” AHIP spokeswoman Kristine Grow said. “There remains little detail on how any of them would work in practice.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association members include Anthem, an investor-owned operator of Blue Cross plans, as well as dozens of other Blue Cross plans and large holding companies like Health Care Service Corp., which operates Blues plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association would provide no comment. A spokeswoman referred questions regarding the trade group’s Medicare For All effort to the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future.

The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future says its mission is “to improve what’s working in health care and fix what’s not.”

“We support building on the strength of employer-provided health coverage and preserving Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that so many Americans depend on, so we can deliver affordability, expand options, improve access, and foster innovation,” The Partnership says on its web site.

Article source:

Utah teens report increasing depression, suicide attempts, other health risks

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 1 in 4 Utah teens are feeling sad enough to consider suicide, and about 8 percent report having tried at least once to take their own lives, according to a survey of students throughout the state.

Future surveys most likely will include questions about screen time and social media use, sexual orientation and gender identity, and social isolation to help state health officials better understand teens and what might lead them into depression.

“We know it’s not just one thing,” said Mike Friedrichs, an epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health‘s Bureau of Health Promotion. “We know that youth are increasingly disconnected. and that’s an issue.”

“It should be shocking to people,” he said.

Kids and teens can experience sadness, but when feelings of hopelessness continue two or more weeks, “to the point where it becomes difficult to enjoy activities or do daily tasks,” it could lead to depression, the 2017 Utah Adolescent Health Report states.

In 2013, 20.8 percent of the 34,229 students surveyed reported being depressed. The number increased to 24.7 percent in 2015; and in 2017 there was another “significant increase,” the report states, to 27.3 percent.

Also in 2017, data show more than 20 percent of Utah students in grades eight, 10 and 12 reported feelings of psychological distress, which led to 18.1 percent seriously considering suicide, 14.3 percent making a plan to kill themselves and 7.7 percent reported having attempted to take their own lives.

“Suicide attempts are a significant risk factor for suicide death later on,” the report states. “All suicide attempts should be taken seriously.”

The risk is highest among females, and the report indicates older students are more likely to experience feelings that might lead to suicide.

In addition to mental health, the School Health and Risk Prevention survey — issued to students in grades six, eight, 10 and 12 every other year — assesses adolescent behaviors on lifestyle, substance abuse, and violence and injury, among others.

The health department collects the data, and its partners, the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health and the Utah State Board of Education, are responsible to form interventions, but, “families and communities have a role in this, and even peers have a role in it, Friedrichs said.

“If we didn’t collect this data, we wouldn’t know,” Friedrichs said, adding that the survey results also point to trends that health officials want to see, such as decreased exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and teen experimentation with cigarettes, and nearly 50 percent fewer teens using tanning beds.

Obesity is still an issue among teens, which Friedrichs said is a major risk factor for these kids as they grow into adulthood.

“I think it is shocking that 1 in 10 kids are obese. Not overweight, but obese, and it’s not a big deal (to people),” he said. “If 1 in 10 kids had measles, it would be a big deal.”

He said obese children are at higher risk for Type 2 diabetes and bullying, as well as poor physical health, yet, “we just accept it,” Friedrichs said.

“We as a people can do better than that,” he said.

Teen use of electronic cigarettes has more than doubled in the last five years, a concerning trend realized by consistent surveying of youth. Not to mention, Friedrichs said, “there are still far too many kids texting and driving.”

Close to 49 percent of teen respondents reported talking on a cellphone while driving and 37.6 percent reported texting while driving, both of which are forms of distracted driving.

Fortunately, 95.5 percent reported frequently wearing a seat belt.

The results of the survey provide “critical tools that help school administrators, teachers and public health practitioners identify health and safety needs of Utah students and take steps toward protecting and improving adolescent health,” said Friedrichs.

Comment on this story

The report states, “Opportunities for change exist all around us.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, you can call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “HOME” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Utah youth with smartphones can also download the SafeUT app for around-the-clock counseling and crisis intervention.

For a full copy of the 2017 Utah Adolescent Health report, visit HealthReport.pdf.

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Audit: Michigan mental health agency CEO misspent $19M

BATTLE CREEK (AP) — The former CEO of a Michigan community mental health agency who went to prison two years ago misspent more than $19 million on lavish benefits, parties and side projects, according to an audit.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services examined records from the seven years Erv Brinker spent as CEO of Summit Pointe Community Mental Health in Battle Creek. Brinker was fired in 2015. He pleaded guilty to embezzlement and Medicaid fraud in 2016 and was sentenced to more than 2.5 years in prison. He was released last month.

The audit showed that Brinker’s purchases included more than $500,000 on psychic services, nearly $87,000 on travel, $65,000 in gifts and $830 on a bobcat costume, WWMT-TV reported . He also amended employee benefit packages without board approval, the report found.

More than $1 million in Medicaid contracts were billed for expenses related to snow removal, a skate park and a virtual school, the audit found. There was also more than $2.5 million in expenditures that weren’t supported by receipts or invoices.

The report includes a corrective action plan, which includes corrective actions that Summit Point has already taken and recommendations for what the state can do to prevent similar cases from happening.

State officials have ordered Summit Pointe repay almost $18 million, The Battle Creek Enquirer reported . The mental health provider plans to appeal some of the findings.

Summit Pointe’s new CEO, Jeannie Goodrich, said the report “represents past practices.” She said the work and services the agency has provided since 2015 illustrate their values.

The state attorney general’s office is reviewing the health department’s investigation, according to a spokeswoman for the office.

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Columbia High School addresses mental health

EAST GREENBUSH, N.Y. —  District officials said Columbia High School students are learning more than reading, writing and arithmetic these days. The subject of mental health, which impacts so many children in society, is being addressed in a variety of ways at school.

On July 1, New York became the first state in the United States to require all schools to incorporate mental health education into the curriculum. The law is meant to address an epidemic in which nearly one in five children living in the U.S. display symptoms of a mental health disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Columbia students participated in an assembly on Wednesday that addressed mental health literacy.

Tina Yun Lee from the National Alliance on Mental Illness led the presentation and taught students about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, and what students can do if they recognize those signs in themselves or a friend.

A local college student, Allie Quinn, shared her personal story as part of the presentation. She described her experience with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, anxiety and severe panic attacks.

“I want to share my story with you all today to show that mental illness can happen to anyone,” Quinn said in a news release. “I was happy, educated and had never touched drugs or alcohol and I was still one of the 25 percent of people who will experience a mental health condition.”

According to a news release, she also talked about the treatment she received and how it, along with support from family, aided her recovery.

“Seeking help doesn’t mean someone is weak, weird or crazy,” she said in the release. “It actually means they’re being proactive about their life. If I hadn’t gotten treatment, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

Officials said the assembly is just one piece of a larger plan to address social-emotional wellness in students across the East Greenbush Central School District.

The district’s K-12 Health Education program is currently under review, a Rensselaer County Health Counselor works with students and staff at Columbia High School and Goff Middle School and organizations such as Rensselaer County Mental Health Services, the Mental Health Association in New York State and other community resources have been utilized, according to district officials.

The school district’s efforts are not only focusing on students.

Officials said staff have participated in trainings held by Questar III BOCES and all teachers in the district will participate in professional development throughout the school year beginning on October 19.

Sessions include trauma-informed classrooms, improving relationships with students, building student resilience, strategies for overcoming learning and behavioral challenges and practicing self-care to manage stress and prevent burnout.

“It’s important that we normalize mental health concerns within our schools among students and faculty,” said East Greenbush Central School District Superintendent Jeff Simons in the release. “Students need to know that they are not alone in their experiences and that they can find trust, support and help among our school staff.”

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Helping Health Care Workers Avoid Burnout

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To make progress against knotty problems, break them down — dissect the causes and analyze their impact on different groups. That analysis inevitably leads away from dubious “magic bullet” solutions and toward multiple, targeted interventions that are more likely to be effective. The measures and data to perform this type of analysis are now becoming available for burnout, a problem that is growing in all sectors, but is particularly challenging in health care.

To better understand the sources of burnout and resilience against it, we analyzed data for two characteristics associated with burnout for more than 80,000 health care personnel from 40 healthcare systems nationwide (approximately 19,000 nurses, 5,000 physicians and 60,000 non-nurse/MD personnel). The first of these characteristics, “activation,” is the extent to which a person is motivated by his or her work and feels it is meaningful. The second, “decompression,” is the degree to which one can withdraw, recharge and enjoy life outside of work. Our research shows how activation and decompression vary among these different groups, and how they relate to resilience against burnout in each.

To study these issues, we developed and validated an eight-question measure of resilience, with four questions each that gauge the degree of activation and decompression. To measure activation, respondents indicate their level of agreement on a 5-point scale (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree) with these statements:

  • The work I do makes a real difference;
  • My work is meaningful;
  • I care for all patients/clients equally even when it is difficult;
  • I see every patient as an individual person with specific needs.

To measure decompression, subjects respond to the statements:

  • I rarely lose sleep over work issues;
  • I am able to free my mind from work when I am away from it;
  • I can enjoy my personal time without focusing on work matters;
  • I am able to disconnect from work communications during my free time.

The greater a person’s agreement with these statements (that is, the higher their score), the more resilience they currently exhibit in the face of stress, and the more likely they will be resistant to burnout. (Resilience is conceptualized here as a moderator of the growing stress faced by the healthcare workforce. As such, low score on gauges of decompression and activation are meant to serve as flags that workplace stress has become overwhelming rather than as indications of a particular individual’s ability or strength in coping.)

We found the doctors, nurses, and non-nurse/MD personnel all had the same average level of activation (4.5), but physicians had lower decompression scores, showing they were less able than others to withdraw and recharge.

We also found that decompression and activation are moderately correlated:  People who are better able to decompress are also somewhat more likely to feel activated in their work.

Decompression, Activation, and Engagement 

Decompression and activation are both related to feelings and behaviors that are traditionally used to measure engagement in health care workforces, specifically being satisfied as an employee, recommending the organization as a good place to work or get care, and being proud of the organization. However, the patterns of relationships vary when comparing correlations among these variables in nurses, physicians and the rest of the healthcare workforce.

For the non-nurse, non-physician group, activation was more strongly correlated with engagement than decompression was. Additionally, the correlations between activation and engagement measures were somewhat greater for this group than for either nurses or physicians. This suggests that for non-nurse/MD personnel the feeling of activation — finding meaning in their work — is even more closely related to their overall engagement than it is for doctors and nurses. Many of these personnel could have built a career in another industry, but they have chosen healthcare. This underscores how important it is for this group to feel tied to the mission of care, for their own well being.

Insight Center

This pattern was distinct from what we saw for nurse and physician respondents. For these clinicians, the relative importance of activation and decompression depends on which kind of engagement outcome is being addressed. Decompression was more strongly correlated with how nurses and physicians felt about their role as employees in an organization (Overall, I am a satisfied employee; I would recommend this organization as a good place to work).  In contrast, activation was more strongly correlated than decompression with how these clinicians feel about the organization’s performance (I would recommend this organization to family and friends who needed care; I am proud to tell people I work for this organization). The impact of decompression on engagement was strongest for the nursing group.

Taken together, these findings suggest that while meaning in work is of great importance to everyone in health care, clinicians’ ability to disconnect from work and recharge may be even more critical than it is for others to how they experience their work environment and how they feel as employees. 

The science of studying burnout and resilience is young, but our experience suggests that measuring decompression and activation can enrich our understanding of the multiple relevant dynamics and support an array of tailored interventions. While everyone would surely benefit from the ability to decompress more, these analyses suggest that clinicians, and especially nurses, are likely to benefit from programs that enhance their ability to decompress. More importantly, organizations should direct resources and efforts to reducing the stresses that make it challenging for clinicians to decompress. For example, if someone indicates that he or she is losing sleep over work issues (one measure of trouble decompressing), the solution is not simply for them to get more sleep, but to ask, “What is going on in this work environment that is causing people to lose sleep? What can be done to improve that situation? How can we help staff to cope with these stressors as we work to reduce them?” Similarly, if someone indicates that they are unable to disconnect from work communications during free time, leadership must ask why and seek ways to address the sources of the problem. Do they simply not have adequate time to address the demands of their roles during work? Or might they feel there will be some negative consequence for failing to remain connected 24/7?

While physicians, nurses, and other staff showed equivalent levels of activation in our study, all are sure to benefit from initiatives that increase the meaning that they find in their work. But because the correlation between engagement and activation is greatest among the non-MD/nurse workforce, this critical group of employees in particular might benefit from reminders that their efforts are even more important to patient care than they may think — opening up a potential strategy for improving organizational culture that has been largely overlooked up to now.

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