DiversityNursing Blog

New York City To Teens: TXT ME With Mental Health Worries

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Mar 30, 2015 @ 09:56 AM

MAANVI SINGH

Source: www.npr.org

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The majority of teenagers with mental health issues don't get help. But maybe if help were just a text message away — they wouldn't be so hesitant to reach out.

That's the thinking behind NYC Teen Text, a pilot program at 10 New York public high schools that allows teens to get help with mental health issues by text.

Chiara de Blasio, the 20-year-old daughter of Mayor Bill de Blasio who has been vocal about her own struggles with depression and substance abuse, helped launched the program. "I know from personal experience that reaching out when you're in pain can be the turning point – the first step on the road to recovery," she said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The initiative is managed by the city's health department in collaboration with the Mental Health Association of New York City, which already runs a citywide crisis phone service.

"Teens can be more candid on text than even in a phone conversation or in person," says John Draper, director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which helped design the Teen Text program. "This generation of teens make and break up relationships by text. So you can get pretty strong levels of intimate conversation with text."

The program is inspired by similar initiatives, including the Teen Line service in Los Angeles and the Crisis Text Line — which is available 24/7 for teens all over the country.

The advantage of having a local service is that counselors can look up and recommend local counselors to teens who need extra help. "We have more than 2,000 providers in our databases," Draper says.

And when teens who text the helpline appear to be in imminent danger of harming themselves or others, counselors can work with the local police department to track them down make sure they're safe.

But the text-based approach poses a few challenges, as well, Draper says. "One of the tricky things is making sure we're communicating our empathy. You can't hear someone say 'Mhm, mhm' over text."

Counselors who operate the text line receive extra training, Draper says. "Over text, counselors go out of their way to make it clear that they're actively listening. We may say something like 'It sounds like this loss has been terribly devastating for you, I'm so sorry to hear that.' "

And teens who reach out to such services may need extra validation, Draper says. "The whole world could be black today and it may feel like that's the way it will be forever. They don't have life experience telling them that this is going to end and get better," he says. "The counselor's job is to really be there in the moment so they learn that they can get through this."

Privacy is another concern. "We use encrypted messages and store all the information in secure databases," Draper says. "Still, on their end, we have no control over what they do with their information. The advantage of keeping the texts on their phone is that they can read and reread these messages that were useful or important to them. But we do warn them — if they're concerned about someone seeing, they should forward their texts to a more secure setting."

"I was very excited about this program," says Nadine Kaslow, the president of the American Psychological Association and vice-chair of Emory University's psychiatry department. "I think it has a great deal of potential."

In-person counseling is the best, most effective way to help teens with mental health trouble, says Kaslow, who isn't involved with the Teen Text program. "But there will be some subgroup of teens where this text service is the only way to connect with them."

There is a lack of research on the long-term efficacy of text and mobile app based services, she notes. "The issue is that everything is anonymous and there's no way to follow-up with them to see if they ended up seeing a counselor later, or if they're doing better."

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will be tracking the number of students who use the new service, and they're planning on gathering feedback from students at the 10 pilot high schools, according to Gary Belkin, the executive deputy commissioner for mental hygiene.

If the program is successful, the health department hopes to expand it and promote it in high schools citywide.

Topics: mental health, technology, health, medical, patients, teens, text message, mobile phone

Hammered And Heedless: Do Dangerous Drinking Videos Harm Teens?

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Feb 23, 2015 @ 12:46 PM

MAANVI SINGH

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Type "drunk," "hammered," or "trashed" into YouTube's search bar and some pretty unsavory videos are likely to turn up.

And that can't be good for teenagers and young adults, researchers say. User-generated YouTube videos portraying dangerous drinking get hundreds of millions of views online, according a study published Friday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research

Do you think dangerous drinking videos harm teens?

These videos often present wild bingeing in a humorous light, the study found, without showing any of the negative consequences, like potentially fatal alcohol poisoning and accidents caused by drunk driving.

The researchers didn't reveal which videos they looked at, to avoid singling out particular YouTube users.

Our own unscientific search turned up many videos under the words "drunk fails," with people who are publicly intoxicated or completely passed out, as well as sleazier stuff like Best Drunk Girls Compilation, Part 1.

There's been lots of research on paid-for alcohol advertisements and product placement on TV shows, in the movies and in music, says Dr. Brian Primack, an associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh and the study's lead author. "But we haven't really looked at YouTube before," he tells Shots.

Primack and his colleagues looked at a cross-section of 70 YouTube videos that showed unsafe drinking. Together those videos pulled in over 330 million views. Even though the videos weren't paid for by alcohol companies, nearly half of them referenced specific brands of alcohol.

The researchers weren't able analyze who is watching these videos, Primack says, because YouTube no longer makes that information publicly available. But Primack suspects that many viewers are underage, because of previous research he has done on YouTube demographics..

It's also not clear how watching these videos may influence young people's decisions on alcohol use.

This is just a preliminary study, Primack says, but the findings highlight the fact that the Internet is full of unhealthy messages about alcohol. Researchers should look more carefully at sites like YouTube and Tumblr, as well as apps like Instagram and Snapchat, he says.

"We already know that visuals are influential for teens and peer influence is important," Primack says. "Sites like YouTube combine both. You've got video paired with likes, comments and peer-to-peer dialogue."

We contacted YouTube, but a spokesperson declined to speak on the record. YouTube does have a policy against harmful or dangerous content and viewers can report inappropriate videos for review.

But these videos are still easy to find, Primack says, and there's no way to completely shield children from negative depictions of alcohol use, Still, he adds, "I don't think the right response is to freak out and block kids' Internet use."

Instead, parents and educators should push kids to think critically about the messages they're exposed to on the Internet, says Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor of community health at Boston University who wasn't involved in the study.

"By actually understanding and talking about it, kids become resistant to these messages," Siegel says. "They'll be able to see that these portrayals online aren't realistic."

Public health agencies could also make better use of platforms like YouTube to put out their own messages, Siegel says.

Source: www.npr.org

Topics: study, research, social media, teens, teenagers, alcohol, drunk, YouTube, videos, Internet

This Is What’s Keeping Teens From Getting Enough Sleep

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Feb 16, 2015 @ 11:21 AM

By 

Up to a third of teens in the U.S. don’t get enough sleep each night, and the loss of shut-eye negatively impacts their gradesmental well-being and physical health. Biologically, adolescents need fewer hours of slumber than kids — but there’s a bigger reason for teens’ sleep loss, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.

Katherine Keyes, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, looked at survey data from more than 270,000 eighth-, 10th- and 12th-grade students at 130 public and private schools across the country, gathered between 1991 and 2010. Each student was asked two questions about his or her sleep habits: how often they slept for at least seven hours a night, and how often they slept less than they should.

She found that over the 20-year study period, adolescents got less and less sleep. Part of that had to do with the fact that biologically, teens sleep less the older they get, but Keyes and her team also teased apart a period effect — meaning there were forces affecting all the students, at every age, that contributed to their sleeping fewer hours. This led to a marked drop in the average number of adolescents reporting at least seven hours of sleep nightly between 1991–1995 and 1996–2000.

That surprised Keyes, who expected to find sharper declines in sleep in more recent years with the proliferation of cell phones, tablets and social media. “I thought we would see decreases in sleep in more recent years, because so much has been written about teens being at risk with technologies that adversely affect the sleep health of this population,” she says. “But that’s not what we found.”

Instead, the rises in the mid-1990s corresponded with another widespread trend affecting most teens — the growth of childhood obesity. Obesity has been tied to health disturbances including sleep changes like sleep apnea, and “the decreases in sleep particularly in the 1990s across all ages corresponds to a time period when we also saw increases in pediatric obesity across all ages,” says Keyes. Since then, the sleep patterns haven’t worsened, but they haven’t improved either, which is concerning given the impact that long-term sleep disturbances can have on overall health.

Keyes also uncovered another worrying trend. Students in lower-income families and those belonging to racial and ethnic minorities were more likely to report getting fewer than seven hours of sleep regularly than white teens in higher-income households. But they also said they were getting enough sleep, revealing a failure of public-health messages to adequately inform all adolescent groups about how much sleep they need: about nine hours a night.

“When we first started looking at that data, I kept saying it had to be wrong,” says Keyes. “We were seeing completely opposite patterns. So our results show that health literacy around sleep are not only critical but that those messages are not adapted universally, especially not among higher-risk groups.”

Source: http://time.com

Topics: mental health, studies, pediatrics, health, research, sleep, teens, insomnia, childhood obesity, grades

Paralympic Champion Makes The Case For Meningitis Vaccine

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jan 05, 2015 @ 11:07 AM

By ALISON BRUZEK

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The last thing on your mind while you're home from school for the holidays is avoiding a deadly disease.

But imagine catching a disease as a teenager — a disease so terrible that it takes not just months to recover, but requires sacrificing both your legs.

That's what happened to Amy Purdy at age 19, when she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. It affects only about 4,000 people a year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but more than 10 percent of those people die. Others, like Purdy, suffer devastating consequences, including hearing loss, brain damage, or the loss of limbs from bloodstream infection.

College students are especially vulnerable, because meningitis is spread by living in close quarters and sharing drinking and eating utensils, or kissing. (An outbreak at Princeton University in 2013 sped up approval a new vaccine for the meningitis B strain.)

That's why the CDC recommends meningitis vaccine for all teenagers, especially if they weren't vaccinated as preteens.

Purdy, now 35, went on to become a Paralympic snowboarding champion and contestant in Dancing with the Stars. She's got a new book, On My Own Two Feet: From Losing My Legs to Learning the Dance of Life, coming out Dec. 30. Shots spoke to her about her battle with the disease and people's misconceptions about meningitis. This is an edited version of the conversation.

Had you heard about meningitis before you became sick?

Of course I heard the name meningitis before. I recognized what it was, but I had no idea that I was at risk. And I have to say, my mom actually told me just about a year before I got sick about one of her friends' son's who battled this horrific disease that came out of nowhere. He ended up losing his legs and his kidneys. It was the exact same thing that I got a year later.

Do you know how you got meningitis?

We have no idea how I got it. I was at an age that's more at risk — I was 19 years old. However, I wasn't a college student. I didn't live in a college dorm. I really wasn't even around that environment. They do say that those who are in college dorms are slightly more at risk than the rest of the world. I don't know how I got it, I was incredibly healthy at the time, I was a massage therapist, I worked out every day, I really took care of myself. It's just this invisible killer that kind of comes out of nowhere.

How did you cope with this loss at such a young age?

For me, it was life-changing. I nearly died multiple times in the hospital. I lost my legs, I lost my spleen, I lost my kidney function. I lost the life that I knew. And going through so much in such a small amount of time and so quickly, for me it put my life into perspective. There were certain things I focused on — I focused on how grateful I was for the things I had versus things I lost. I got a second chance at life and I wanted to use it. I didn't want to waste it by dwelling on what happened or why it happened.

One of the ironies is that those losses actually led to a lot of great things, like Dancing With the Stars and the Paralympics.

Definitely. The way I look at it is, we all have disabilities. We all have things that limit us and that challenge us. But really, our real limitations are the ones we believe. And I, from the beginning, believed that I could accomplish my goals and accomplish my dreams and I set out to do that. I'm very grateful that I've had the opportunities I've had.

A new vaccine for meningitis B was approved this fall, and you're now working with the manufacturer, Pfizer, to promote it. How did that happen?

Pfizer's actually teamed up with my nonprofit organization, which is called Adaptive Action Sports. I cofounded this organization in 2005 to help people with physical disabilities get involved in action sports, go snowboarding, skateboarding. Obviously, they want to get the word out there that there's protection against this bacteria.

I'm really proud to be a part of this campaign, though. You hear about rare diseases and weird things happening to people on Oprah and Dateline and you just never think it's going to happen to you. And then come to find out you actually could've protected yourself against it. To me it seems like a no-brainer.

What do you want parents to ask their teen's doctor about meningitis?

The number one question is, "Do you carry the meningococcal meningitis vaccination?" I feel like if parents could vaccinate their kids against car accidents, they would. This is one of those things where there are ways to help protect your kid against this.

Source: www.npr.org

Topics: Meningitis, Paralympic Champion, preteens, health, healthcare, nurses, doctors, disease, CDC, medical, hospital, vaccine, medicine, treatment, teens

Docs urge delayed school start times for teens

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Sep 02, 2014 @ 02:30 PM

By Michelle Healy

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Let them sleep!

That's the message from the nation's largest pediatrician group, which, in a new policy statement, says delaying the start of high school and middle school classes to 8:30 a.m. or later is "an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss" and the "epidemic" of delayed, insufficient, and erratic sleep patterns among the nation's teens.

Multiple factors, "including biological changes in sleep associated with puberty, lifestyle choices, and academic demands," negatively impact teens' ability to get enough sleep, and pushing back school start times is key to helping them achieve optimal levels of sleep – 8½ to 9½ hours a night, says the American Academy of Pediatrics statement, released Monday and published online in Pediatrics.

Just 1 in 5 adolescents get nine hours of sleep on school nights, and 45% sleep less than eight hours, according to a 2006 poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

"As adolescents go up in grade, they're less likely with each passing year to get anything resembling sufficient sleep," says Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and lead author of the AAP statement. "By the time they're high school seniors, the NSF data showed they were getting less than seven hours of sleep on average."

Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents "can, without hyperbole, really be called a public health crisis," Owens says.

Among the consequences of insufficient sleep for teens, according to the statement:

 

  • Increased risk for obesity, stroke and type 2 diabetes; higher rates of automobile accidents; and lower levels of physical activity.
  • Increased risk for anxiety and depression; increased risk-taking behaviors; impaired interpretation of social/emotional cues, decreased motivation and increased vulnerability to stress.
  • Lower academic achievement, poor school attendance; increased dropout rates; and impairments in attention, memory, organization and time management.

Napping, extending sleep on weekends and caffeine consumption can temporarily counteract sleepiness, but they do not restore optimal alertness and are not a substitute for regular, sufficient sleep, the AAP says.

Delaying school start time is a necessary step, but not the only step needed to help adolescents get enough sleep, Owens says. "Other competing priorities in most teenagers' lives are also components of this problem," she says, including homework, after-school jobs, extracurricular activities and electronic media use. Computers and television screens, she adds, "produce enough light to suppress melatonin levels and make it more difficult to fall asleep."

"The bottom line is if school starts at 7:20 there is no way for the average adolescent to get the 8½ to 9½ hours of sleep they need," Owens says

Research on student performance in schools that have reset the start clock, including Minneapolis Public Schools, "shows benefits across the board," says Kyla Wahlstrom, director of the Center for Applied Research and Education Improvement at the University of Minnesota.

"We've found statistically significant evidence that attendance is improved, tardiness is decreased and academic performance on core subjects, English, math, social studies and science, is improved. And now we have evidence that on national standardized tests such as the ACT, there's improvement there, too," Wahlstrom says.

Obstacles commonly cited to changing school start schedules, include curtailed time for athletic practices and games, reduced after-school employment hours for students and significant impact on bus scheduling and other transportation arrangements, she says, adding, "This is a major policy change that schools have to grapple with if they want to embrace the research about what we know about teens."

According to U.S. Department of Education statistics approximately 43% of the more than 18,000 public high schools in the U.S. have a start time before 8 a.m.; just 15% started at 8:30 a.m. or later.

In some school districts that transport students great distances, buses are picking up students as early as 5:45 a.m., "so there's also a safety element" to early start times, says Terra Ziporyn Snider, executive director of the advocacy group Start School Later.

Other major health organizations, including the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have all highlighted insufficient sleep in adolescents as a serious health risk, as has U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Snider says.

"What's unique about the American Academy of Pediatrics' statement is that it's very specific," she says. "It says very clearly that high school and middle schools should not start before 8:30 a.m. for the sake of the health and sleep of our children. They draw the red line."

Source: http://www.usatoday.com

Topics: school, time, early, education, doctors, children, sleep, teens, students

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