Mental Health Awareness Month

Posts Tagged health equity

The Mental Impact On Our Virtual Lives

According to research, as of 2021, about 4.2 billion people utilize social media, roughly 58.4% of the global population. According to Merriam-Webster, social media is “a form of electronic communication where users can share videos, messages, and ideas with their curate community.” This encompasses platforms such as Instagram, Tiktok, YouTube, and even Pinterest. As social media usage skyrockets, so do the rate of mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

In 2020 the National Alliance of Mental Illness released the impact on mental health:

  • 1 in 5 experience mental health 
  • 1 in 20 experience serious mental health illness   
  • One in15 suffered mental health issues and substance abuse
  • Over 12 million people experienced suicidal ideations 

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Social media allows us to curate the life we want virtually; between filters and editors, you can be whoever you want to be very quick. However, does the impact of trying to obtain a certain status on these platforms outweigh what it is doing to our minds? Studies have shown that Americans spend around 4 to 6 hours daily on their smartphones, with some experiencing phenomena such as Phantom Vibration Syndrome.

Phantom Vibration Syndrome is when you believe your phone is vibrating. One study found that 89% of undergraduate students experienced phantom vibration and did not see it as concerning. Others, however, have been very transparent that they may have an unhealthy, even an addictive, relationship with their smartphone.

Another phenomenon is Social Media Anxiety Disorder, often referred to as FOMO, which is the constant need to check on your online friends and followers to ensure you are not missing out. Unfortunately, these individuals are also more likely to lie about how much time they spend using their phones and experience severe withdrawal symptoms when unable to use social media.

Individuals are also experiencing numerous forms of violence linked to social media usage. The Pew Research Center’s 2018 survey of U.S. teens showed that one in six teenagers had experienced at least one of six different forms of abusive behavior online:

  • Name-calling (42%)
  • Spreading false rumors (32%)
  • Receiving unsolicited explicit images (25%)
  • Having their activities and whereabouts tracked by someone other than a parent (21%)
  • Someone making physical threats (16%)
  • Having explicit images of them shared without their consent (7%)

There is also a correlation between body dysmorphia and social media in young adolescent girls, and some organizations are going as far as banning filters for their product promotions. As social media grows, so does our need to create checks and balances to have a healthy natural world life and an online presence. Below are some ways to protect your mental health from the downside of social media.

Tips on balancing social media usage:

  1. Implement downtime or screentime on your phone. This allows you not to pass a certain amount of time daily.
  2. Try a 30-day social media cleanse! Instead of checking your phone recenter on a new activity.
  3. Do not grab your phone for the first hour and last hour of the day.
  4. Unfollow accounts and people that are not good for your mind.
  5. Try automating your social media posts for your accounts to avoid logging in.
  6. Go outside! Nature and yoga can help to reconnect.
  7. Try to refrain from using your phone when hanging out with friends and family.
  8. Speak to your therapist if you feel you have an unhealthy relationship with social media.

Social media has its ups and downs, but it has proven influential when creating community and connecting across platforms. However, we have to keep in mind that social media can create moments of depression and anxiety, and in a time when you almost need to be interconnected, make time for yourself. 

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Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Why You Should Get Tested for Celiac Disease

When it comes to our day to day, some aspects of life often seem to be unavoidable. It comes to many modern-day can diets that look like our gluten intake. It is estimated that we ingest around 5-20 grams of foods and grains that contain gluten daily.  

Even some of our lip care products contain gluten, and in recent years, more products have been distancing themselves from the ingredient. However, individuals may not know their discomfort after eating gluten is a celiac disease with all this consumption.

According to research published National Library of Medicine, “Gluten is the main storage protein of wheat grains. Gluten is a complex mixture of hundreds of related but distinct proteins, mainly gliadin and glutenin.” Therefore, we find gluten very heavily in whole wheat, barley, and rye which can cause inflammation known as celiac disease.

Celiac disease is an inflammatory causing the autoimmune disease which impacts around 1in 5 of the US population. Ingesting gluten disrupts the small intestine lining and can cause issues such as diarrhea, weight loss, and even discomfort. If celiac goes untreated, an individual can encounter severe health impacts such as mouth ulcers or infertility. 

It is essential to know that celiac disease is caused by eating gluten, mainly in people with two types of genes, DQ2 and DQ8. In addition, the reaction to gluten spurs can also impact the body later in life, so an individual may not see inflammation until adulthood. These reasons make it imperative to monitor responses to gluten products over time. Below are the side effects of celiac disease and obtaining an official diagnosis from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Signs of Celiac Disease:

  • Abdominal pain 
  • Constipation 
  • Chronic diarrhea 
  • Bloating 

These are some signs that celiac disease may be present in the body. If you are experiencing these symptoms and have other autoimmune disorders, seek a doctor. In addition, if there is a history of celiac disease in your family, it is beneficial to be tested twice a year to see if any change has occurred. These tests can range from blood tests to endoscopy and potentially eating gluten products over a few weeks.

Because of the inflammation, some individuals opt to be gluten-free without a celiac diagnosis. As concerns grow, more food choices are available that are gluten-free, but we still have some work regarding the accessibility of those food choices. Please visit the HUED directory to find a primary care provider or specialist to navigate a gluten-free diet and celiac disease.

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Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Protect Your Bones: The Importance of Good Posture

According to the National Library of Medicine, “Good Posture” is all in the position of your spine and holding your body. Our dynamic posture refers to how we keep our body when we are moving, and static posture is how our body is maintained when we are stationary. Therefore, we must practice good posture throughout our day to ensure the longevity of our neck and back.

Below are daily body practices we can do to improve our posture!

  • Take breaks: Especially if your job requires you to be sitting for long periods.
  • Body scan: Make sure there is no tension in your body. Scan and drop your shoulders, relax the neck, and unclench your jaw.
  • Supportive Shoes: Be mindful of the shoes you are wearing, and be sure to switch out to newer shoes at least two times a year. Make sure your shoes have a strong sole and correctly cover your feet.
  • Keep moving: A light workout daily will keep your body moving, so there is no stiffness!
  • Height matters: Make sure your work location is at a comfortable height.
  • No slouching! We know it feels good at the moment but trusts us, you are back will thank you later.
  • When lifting and carrying heavy items, be sure to lift correctly (from knees and not back) to avoid serious injury. 

Our posture is essential to numerous aspects of our health and quality of life. Be sure to speak to your provider about oral health and the best ways for you to maintain the perfect posture.

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Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Keeping Your Smile Clean and Healthy

Say Cheese! Let us see those pearly whites! First impressions are crucial, and many invest and even stress over their smile. In 2019 oral health was the highest priority, with individuals spending on average $128.75 with insurance and up to $900 without coverage. 

Keeping up with our oral health is an investment, but it is worth it not only for those smiles on picture day, but your oral and dental health can impact the rest of your body.

Heart health is very closely linked to your oral health! 

If your oral health starts to decline, you may be putting yourself at risk for heart disease and strokes. Oral bacteria cause infections that can travel throughout your body, leading to conditions such as endocarditis which leads to blood clots and abnormal heartbeat. Gum disease also impacts our bodies more than we may know and has been linked to dementia, infertility, diabetes, and even prostate complications

Those tiny bones in your mouth can make a difference, and below are some tips to ensure we are keeping up with our oral health.

  1. Find a dentist, and be sure to keep up with your annual appointments 
  2. Brush your teeth two times a day
  3. Make sure to floss
  4. Replace your toothbrush every three months! Yes, we have to be changing our toothbrushes and if you are sick after you recover, change your toothbrush.
  5. When rinsing your mouth, DO NOT use water! You will wash away all the toothpaste you just used. Instead, just spit or use mouthwash.
  6. Limit alcohol and tobacco use

Our oral health requires individual care! The toothpaste that works best for you may not work for someone else. In addition, your gums may be more sensitive, so a softer toothbrush could be beneficial. Be sure to speak to your provider about oral health and the best ways to maintain a healthy smile.

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Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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The Stress that Triggers Stroke and Self-Care

According to the American Stroke Association, Stroke is the leading cause of disability and ranks number 5 as the cause of death in America. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute defines stroke as a blockage stopping blood from carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain. In addition, stress has been a leading cause of death on the rise and impacts individuals younger and younger.

One stressor that too many deal with is stress due to employment studies continuously showing a link between job stress and risk for stroke. In jobs that are high demand but low control, individual increases their risk of stress by 22% compared to those who work in more controlled environments. 

The stress of a job also ties into financial stress; with 2 in 3 American families being one missed paycheck from homelessness, the need to keep a job is critical. Navigating childcare is another stressor, and one study found most believe Women are to be the primary caregiver.

In 2019, 9.8 million mothers reported feeling burnout trying to balance being a parent and life. The stress of navigating life has become documented that burnout is no longer a simple phrase. Burnout is now categorized by the World Health Organization under its list of International Classified diseases.

With the rise of stress, the certainty of rising stroke could happen much faster than we think. For these reasons self-care is essential, and not only the fun stuff like getting your hair done but the hard stuff like saying No! 

Ways to Reduce Stress and Self-care 

  1. Set a schedule. Get that planner you were eyeing and plan your day-to-day for less stress.
  2. Delegate tasks and set boundaries with work. You do not have to answer that email at 8:37 pm.
  3. Turn your phone off or on; do not disturb more throughout the day. 
  4. It is okay to ask for help! 
  5. Reconnect with the hobbies and joys outside of work and financial gain.
  6. Reconnect with nature! A good walk or Vitamin D can boost the mood.

Protecting your mental peace and stress levels is a priority and should not be taken lightly. If overworking and not resting keeps happening, it will result in a stroke. Be sure to speak to your provider about your stress levels and assist with forming a plan to mitigate stress levels.

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Skin Cancer: How to Identify and When to See a Professional

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Despite phrases that continue to uphold the youthfulness of melanated skin, “Black don’t crack,” it is also essential to remember that melanated skin can also get sick. Research shows more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than any other cancer combined. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by 70. The numbers show that skin cancer is more prevalent than many believe.

As melanated individuals, we must understand that our natural skin can only protect us for so long. Therefore, we need to be taking care of our skin health which also looks like covering our skin and utilizing sunscreen. Studies show that the 5-year survival rate of melanoma in Black people is 25% less than in White people due to cancer developing in more hidden areas.

Skin cancer develops from constant exposure to the sun and often starts with a small brown or red blemish (sometimes white) where the cancer is growing. An individual might also begin to see moles appear within the surrounding area. 

Parts of the body such as the arms, legs, chest, and face continuously within the sun will be impacted. However, places such as the top of the head, palms of hands, toes, and ears are also susceptible to developing skin cancer. Therefore, it is essential to look over your skin daily and note any changes in texture or new blemishes. Understanding the different forms of skin cancer below can also help bring awareness and help others seek treatment.

Primary type 3 forms of Skin Cancer as outlined by Cleveland Clinic:

Melanoma

  • The most severe form of skin cancer spreads throughout your body, even within your internal programs.
  • A Brown patch, bump, or mole is itchy, bleeding, or changing size.
  • If you start to notice patches or moles changing size and bleeding on parts of skin most at risk for sun exposure, seek a professional.

Basal cell carcinoma

  • The most common sun-exposed skin cancer appears on the parts of bodies most in the sun—legs, arms, face, etc.
  • Cancer is slow progressing and usually does not spread to other parts of the body.

Squamous cell carcinoma

  • Most common in sun-exposed areas and can impact mucus membranes and genitalia.
  • The skin may become very rough and scaly and peel or itch and become crusty. One can also notice a firm pink or red nodule on the skin.

If you notice any changes to your skin, visit a dermatologist for an evaluation. A procedure such as a biopsy removes a sample of the tissues to evaluate. If cancer is presented in the skin, operations such as Mohs surgery or cryotherapy may be performed. 

It is important to remember that the sooner an evaluation is done, the sooner skin cancer can be treated. It is also critical that we remember to take care of our skin and stop unnecessary skin exposure daily. Yes, melanated people, you can still take that picture of yourself sunkissed and quickly head back inside or put a hat on.

Melanated skin also no longer has to wonder what type of skin cancers look on their skin. Thanks to Vaseline x HUEDs database “See My Skin,” photos of different skin conditions such as cancer and eczema are available for review. In addition, See My Skin, a dermatologist-backed platform, was created, so those with melanated skin no longer have to wonder about their skin conditions.

Keeping your skin covered, sunscreen, hats, shades, and platforms like See My Skin are ways to ensure lasting healthy skin. Also, find a dermatologist who knows your skin needs under the directory at HUED. Summer may be approaching, but that doesn’t mean sun safety for your skin gets put on the back burner.

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Speaking Your Mind at Your Appointment 

Started in the US in 1949 by the Mental Health America organization, Mental Health Awareness Month is observed during May. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 adults will experience mental illness. In addition, in a survey done in 2021 by the American Psychological Association, there has been a rise in people seeking mental health care for diagnosis and anxiety. 

Social media has also allowed many organizations and therapists such as @therapyforblackgirls to create everyday content and tools for a wider community. As the individual needs grow for mental health resources, so does the need for physicians who value mental health within their practice.

One study surveyed doctors, and they found that even when depressive symptoms are reported, they were not always taken into consideration when giving care. Instead, doctors were more inclined to treat the physical concern instead of navigating how depression can cause chronic health issues within an individual. 

This can be frustrating, primarily when many offices utilize a mental health screening form before the appointment. Being honest on the document and not receiving follow-up can make patients feel they are being ignored. Even if the provider is listening to your concerns, many struggle with believing a patient’s pain. A 2017 study pointed out the rise in discrimination and gaslighting patients receive from disclosing a mental health illness to their provider. 

Another study found that 44% of adults had reported being discriminated against or dismissed by their physicians. Again, this looks like outwardly ignoring the issue, assuring it is “all in the head,” or even recommending institutionalizing someone for their concerns. 

For marginalized people of color, this discrimination and dismissal can be even more forceful since many do not have the recourses to get a documented diagnosis. Those who do are often judged and treated more as a threat than their white counterparts. We have seen this in our past articles centering on male athletes and neurological health and Black women and maternal mortality

Mental health and physical health are shared, and one does not outweigh the other or should be used to dismiss the other. Doctors also need to realize the white coat is not always right and learn more about the individual experience of the patients they are treating. With so much stigma surrounding mental health in our daily life, it is tough to think we would have to navigate in the place we go to get better. 

Creating spaces that do not dismiss us for our mental health requires us to change how the school teaches about psychological and physical health. It also requires providers not always to feel that they know what is best based on the textbook. But to understand the nuances of what a person is experiencing.

For patients, it looks like having the understanding to know that a mental illness does not make you any less worthy of proper care or the right to speak up with your body. Instead, it is knowing that healthcare providers out there will be a supportive figures and not judgemental. Below are tips to navigate mental illness with healthcare providers:

  1. Find a provider who understands mental health and physical health are related.
  2. Discuss healthcare providers with your therapist (sometimes they have referrals)
  3. Discuss your experiences with your therapist or mental health professional to keep a record.
  4. Tell your healthcare provider to note in your chart anytime they deny you a test or exam based on your mental health.
  5. Implement self-care techniques because provider navigation can be overwhelming. 

When discussing mental health, we need to allow open dialogue and a collaborative approach between the patient and physician. In addition, during the summer of 2022, HUED will be launching its E-learning pilot course centering on cultural competency. This program will equip care seekers and providers with the information needed to understand how these health detriments impact us individually and as a community. 

No patient should be denied care because of their mental illness, and in fact, this should be an opportunity to create an individualized plan.

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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The Doctor That Listens

The last week of April is Patient Experience Week, celebrated with patients showing appreciation for their healthcare providers. So often looks like thank you notes or encouraging patients to leave reviews about healthcare providers. As we celebrate and thank our doctors this week, it is essential to shed light on how to increase the rate of positive patient and provider relationships.

Family Medicine for America’s Health (FMAHealth) conducted a campaign and found that 89% of Americans felt it was essential to have a physician who knows their background and family history.  However, many adults within Black and Latinx communities are more likely to lack the health coverage for a primary doctor compared to their white counterparts.

Studies also show that less than 5% of doctors are Black, and less than that 9% are Hispanic and Latino. Patients with a provider within the same race and ethnic demographic are more likely to rate a better overall experience. 

When sitting with these numbers, it is clear that Black and Latinx communities are most likely not seeing a doctor due to a lack of insurance and finances. The ones with access to medical treatment are likely being seen by white male doctors. When looking at the history of Black and Latinx populations as patients tend not to value our voices and do not give us the proper care we need.

There is also a continuous lack of information given to patients regarding their health, so the language of how to ask questions and adequately advocate is often limited. It is vital to continue pushing for diversity within the medical field and educate providers on the populations often disregarded in the room. However, it is equally and often more critical to equip patients with the proper tools to find, question, and form dialogue with their providers. 

Many times that looks like being able to see conditions on people who look like you, which is why Vaseline and HUED created See My Skin. This database powered by a team of dermatologists shows images of what certain skin conditions look like on melanated skin. Databases like this are essential because, let’s say, someone believes they are struggling with eczema but has never seen what that looks like on melanated skin.

If we can see it, we can start to advocate.

Other ways we can all step into this call to action to create healthier and more collaborative relationships with our healthcare providers:

  1. If you need a healthcare provider, visit HUED, look through our directory, and find a doctor that aligns with you. 
  2. Speak with your family about any medical conditions that are in the family. The conversation can give you a better sense of what conditions you may be monitoring.
  3. Look for insurance providers that work with you! For example, Medicare is a government insurance program that offers affordable plans for those who require financial assistance.
  4. Keep a journal of any health concerns you face with correlating dates and times so you do not forget when visiting your primary doctor.
  5. If you have a positive relationship with your doctor, leave them a review! Yes, supporting Black and Latinx businesses is also in the medical field.

Let’s go over that last point one more time “leave a review” the best compliment is referrals and word of mouth. If you have a positive relationship with your doctor, let them know that and share it on their website or reviews online. Eliminating the disparities in our care also looks like uplifting those doing the work daily.

HUED is committed to eliminating health disparities and improving overall patient outcomes for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people. How do we do that? By designing equity-based education, enabling access to culturally sensitive healthcare providers, and empowering patients to make data-informed decisions about their healthcare. We offer a directory that connects Black, Latinx, and Indigenous patients with culturally humble medical providers.

Stay connected with us on Instagram @HUEDCO, and do not forget to subscribe to our newsletter! We would not want you to miss any new research or blogs.

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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The Quality Skincare You Deserve    

Skin is our largest organ. It plays a vital role in our overall health by functioning as a protective barrier between our bodies and harmful elements in the outside world, such as bacteria, viruses, yeast, parasites, pollution, and ultraviolet (UV) light damage. Any skin problem, whether a rash, growth, or disease process, affects your skin’s ability to function correctly and negatively impacts overall health, economic viability, social life, and self-esteem. It is important to remember that having healthy skin is a right, not a privilege.

The population of the United States is becoming increasingly diverse; however, diversity in the healthcare workforce does not mirror this demographic shift. The lack of diversity in our healthcare workforce is problematic at many levels. Insights have shown that having a doctor who looks like you can result in better communication, improved access and compliance with treatment, and ultimately a better outcome. While that isn’t always the option or necessary, it’s equally important that physicians understand the cultural differences needs of patients. When developing treatments to address the unique concerns of patients with skin of color, it’s also essential to have a diverse group of researchers that represent the audience. Lastly, clinical trials must include patients with skin of color to help provide invaluable information for the development of future treatments. 

The skin of color and textured hair has unique characteristics that require the cultural competency of healthcare practitioner in skin and hair care practices for successful outcomes. Yet, according to a 2012 report, 47 % of dermatologists felt that their medical training didn’t adequately prepare them to treat melanin-rich skin, and a 2008 study found that only 12.2% of dermatology training programs had a rotation in which residents gained specific experience in treating patients with skin of color. 

While there are several efforts to address the gaps of representation for skin of color, like Vaseline’s See My Skin, there is still work. For example, within the US, 12% of the population is African American, while only 3% of the board-certified dermatologists in the US are African American. In addition, for the Hispanic community, only 4.2% of dermatologists are of Hispanic origin compared with 16.3% in the general US population.

Having more Black and Hispanic Dermatologists is crucial; however, understanding specific cultural needs should be a must for all dermatologists and healthcare physicians. This begins with a commitment to recruit and retain minority academic faculty, confronting institutional racism, and providing leadership opportunities throughout the medical, educational system. While there is still work to be done, the ASDS (American Society of Dermatologic Surgery) has established a DEI workgroup and Rise Up Mentorship program to match current dermatology residents with practicing mentors who look like them. 

This lack of diversity impacts every level of training, from having teachers in medical school that represent a diverse group of people – this includes advisors and mentors, who guide and supports the Dermatology residency application process and career trajectory. In addition, fewer dermatologists in positions of influence in the exam room, the lab, and the boardroom negatively impact the development and implementation of products and treatments to serve people of color. 

While we know there is a lot of work to help close the gap in skin equity, how can you, as a patient, ensure you get the quality care you deserve? 

Resources offered by Vaseline and HUED’s partnership allow people of color to connect with physicians trained to provide you with optimal care. Please visit the physician finder tool to search for a dermatologist near you. If you are in the North Carolina area, you can also book an appointment at my practice, Skin Wellness Dermatology. Once you have chosen a Dermatologist, consider using Vaseline’s guide to prepare you for your dermatologist visit

References

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51430402_Skin_of_color_education_in_dermatology_residency_programs_Does_residency_training_reflect_the_changing_demographics_of_the_United_States
  2. Shen MJ et al. J Racial Ethn Health Disparities 2018 Feb;5(1):117-140.
  3. Kirch  DG, Nivet  M.  Increasing diversity and inclusion in medical school to improve the health of all.  J Healthc Manag. 2013;58(5):311-313.
  4. Bodenheimer  T, Sinsky  C.  From triple to quadruple aim: care of the patient requires consideration of the provider.  Ann Fam Med. 2014;12(6):573-576. 
  5. https://www.sidnet.org/content/uploads/2021/01/Increasing-Racial-and-Ethnic.pdf

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The Health Disparities Blocking Our Care (Part 1)

According to the CDC, Health Disparities are “defined as preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health experienced by socially disadvantaged populations.” 

The rise of Black maternal mortality and the constant dismissiveness of childhood abuse as a health issue are examples of health disparities in the medical system.  These disparities are categorized by a lack of sustainable resources in marginalized communities, such as access to healthy food and clean water.  Below is an illustration from the Kaiser Family Foundation that gives an in-depth overview of what is defined as a health disparity.

Kaiser Family Foundation 

Community identities such as gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are often a crossfire of health disparities. As illustrated below, marginalized communities of color continue to have a gap between their white counterparts in car

Kaiser Family Foundation

The questions become how can we make ourselves aware of the disparities in our system, and how can we advocate for our individual and collective health? 

The answer is to listen and learn from the research about the medical implications of health disparities and look back at the social oppressions and their impact. 

Economic Stability 

  • The wage gap in marginalized communities of color and lack of employment benefits can prevent individuals from having adequate insurance to navigate healthcare.
  • The rise in debt does not allow for the financial freedom to offer other healthcare options.

Neighbors and Physical Environment 

  • Community redlining can impact the quality of providers that are within the community.
  • Lack of transportation impacts the ability to get healthy food and proper healthcare.

Education 

  • Lack of childhood educational opportunities and healthy after-school care.
  • Lack of information about health in both childhood and adulthood.

Food

  • Lack of food can create an unhealthy relationship with food and makes no room for healthy eating.
  • In marginalized communities of color, corner stores and bodegas are the centers for food and medication.

Community, Safety, and Context 

  • Community is public health, and lack of community engagement can lead to isolation and further cause a decline in mental health.
  • The lack of healthcare professionals researching the issues that impact the community creates a decline in community building.

Health Care System

  • The lack of culturally respectful and competent healthcare providers doesn’t allow for the healthy patient and provider relationships.
  • Lack of making language barriers more accessible.

These disparities are ingrained oppressions in our communities! It is not enough to just be a “good doctor.” It takes an active understanding of the world many marginalized people of color navigate. We challenge providers to dive deeper into the communities around them and issues impacting others in the US and globally. We also empower patients to ask the hard questions and continue learning about the needs of their body and their community.

In addition, during the summer of 2022, HUED will be launching its E-learning pilot course centering on cultural competency. This program will equip care seekers and providers with the information needed to understand how these health detriments impact us individually and as a community.  

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO and subscribe to our newsletter. 

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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A Closer Look at Men’s Eating Habits

When we think of body positivity and body dysmorphia, we often focus on how that impacts women. However, according to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), about one in three people struggling with an eating disorder is male. Yet even the research on how eating disorders impact men is not in-depth, the conversation on eating disorders and body image has historically focused on White women and girls. 

An estimated 10 million boys and men in the United States will experience an eating disorder. However, these are only the numbers reported due to medical diagnosis and do not account for those who have yet to seek medical care. 

Body dysmorphia due to social media is often shown to impact women and girls, but men are also affected. Body dysmorphia is defined as the obsessive focus on perceived defects in one’s body. Regardless of the changes, someone makes, they mentally only see the perceived “defects” in the mirror. Videos and images of male bodybuilders on social media and even the fantasy of superheroes have been linked to the increase of eating disorders in men.

Men, especially athletes, are more prone to develop an eating disorder known as Binge eating. This is where someone consumes a large amount of food in one setting that develops into an uncontrollable impulse only to consume food at one time. Binge eating is normalized when playing sports that involve bulking up, leanness, or weight classes, such as wrestling or powerlifting. 

This has led studies to expand the definition of eating disorders, resulting in “subclinical eating disorders” that are more prevalent among men. According to research, “patients who are not in treatment for an eating disorder do not show all clinical aspects of anorexia or bulimia as described in the DSM. Nonetheless, individuals considered to have subclinical eating disorders demonstrate patterns of disturbance in body image and self-perception that are pathological. (Am J Psychiatry. 2001)” 

One study looked at male lightweight rowers and wrestlers and found that 52% engaged in binge eating while 11% were in the subclinical eating disorders. So that means over 60% of athletes were navigating an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are a rapidly growing problem among male athletes, and without addressing the social narratives that hinder proper diagnosis, we are missing the mark with good male health. Two of the main issues that impede adequate diagnosis are:

  1. Eating disorders are categorized as feminine, and males feel they will be considered “feminine” for seeking resources.
  2. Resources as assessments often have language geared towards women and girls.

Understanding eating disorders are not gender-specific; anyone can develop an unhealthy eating habit that can lead to an eating disorder. Even as an athlete, it is crucial to prioritize your health over the sport or job, which may push past society’s regular narratives. Coaches and recruiters also need to be aware of the signs of eating disorders and bring up the proper resources.

Eating Disorders look like this:

  • Excessive exercise patterns (exercise every day, even in inclement weather).
  • They avoid social settings with food.
  • They are hiding food in their room.
  • Constantly commenting or preoccupied with their weight.
  • The rapid change in weight (both loss and gain)

Finding a healthcare provider to properly diagnose you are a step toward forming healthy eating habits. Men being kept out of the conversation is harmful to their health and continues to stigmatize eating disorders. We must encourage men, especially those who are athletes, to put their health first, which will allow for a higher quality of life.

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Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Child Maltreatment is a Medical Concern

According to Childhelp, every ten seconds in the United States, child abuse reports are made, and 4 million referrals are made to child protection agencies. Child maltreatment and child abuse have been a growing concern that continues to hurt the victim of abuse in adulthood. In one study, nonclinical samples of adults in both the United States and internationally show self-reported childhood physical abuse with 10% to 31% in men and 6% to 40% in women.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau report Child Maltreatment 2010 found that 9.2% of victimized children were sexually assaulted. In addition, the health implications of ACEs can show high blood pressure, alcoholism, and poor nutrition in adulthood. 

ACEs are “Adverse Childhood Experiences,” such as living in a physically abusive household, experiencing mental and emotional abuse from a caregiver, and having limited access to food and healthcare. ACEs have been linked to adverse adult health, but these experiences are rarely discussed when stepping into physician care. Addressing the abuse and neglect children are dealing with can increase their chances of good health, and validating adults’ experiences can help beginning heal and positive health.

Harvard Chan alumna Nadine Burke Harris, MPH ’02, said “trauma [public health crisis] during childhood can increase people’s risk for 7 out of 10 of the leading causes of death in the U.S.” Childhood trauma can lead to feelings such as lack of trust, fear, isolation, and neglect. It can also lead to depression, PTSD, constipation, and infrequent bowel movements. In addition, adults who have higher numbers of ACEs are also more likely to engage in high-risk health behaviors such as alcohol usage, drug use, and unprotected sex.

Children often do not have the space to vocalize abuse, especially if that treatment comes from caregivers. Stomach issues are one way that stress and anxiety often manifest in children who have many ACEs. If the violence against children is addressed, we would have a decrease in long-term health issues in adults. We bring this call to action to end childhood abuse for communities globally.

Call to Action:

  • Ask and listen when children tell us how they feel about certain people or activities.
  • Physicians need to recognize the history of childhood abuse in their patients. Specific somatic syndromes or symptoms could indicate, and questions should be asked.
  • Mental health needs to be part of the conversation regarding physical health.
  • Caregivers should communicate with their kids and allow for open discussion with primary care providers.

When approaching a child’s health or childhood memories, these questions and structures allow open dialogue and a collaborative approach between the child, caregiver, and physician. In addition, during the summer of 2022, HUED will be launching its E-learning pilot course centering on cultural competency. This program will equip care seekers and providers with the information needed to understand how these health detriments impact us individually and as a community. 

Addressing child maltreatment and child abuse will help address the long-term health issues faced as adults. In addition, finding a provider that understands this health detriment can help open a dialogue about any ACEs.

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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