health


In the United States, there is a large stigma regarding mental health issues. The Mayo clinic website explains this well.  However also implies that the age of stigma has passed.  It hasn’t. People seem much more comfortable saying they have diabetes or asthma than saying they have a mental illness.  For many years this has resulted in unequal treatment of mental and physical illness and in employment and insurance, but that may be changing, and it must.

An editorial in yesterday’s LaCrosse (Wisconsin) Tribune notes that:

[I]f we continue to let mental illnesses go untreated because of paltry insurance benefits and under-funding of public efforts at mental health care and intervention, we’ll continue to pay an escalating monetary cost — in law enforcement, in prisons, in emergencycare at the county level of people in extremis.

Last week, the congress and Obama administration passed new laws that are intended to bring equality to the treatment of mental health issues.  In a New York Times article, Robert Pear said this:

Insurers cannot set higher co-payments and deductibles or stricter limits on treatment for mental illness and addiction disorders. Nor can they establish separate deductibles for mental health care and for the treatment of physical illnesses.

Such disparities are common in the insurance industry. By sweeping away such restrictions, doctors said, the rules will make it easier for people to obtain treatment for a wide range of conditions, including depression, autism,schizophreniaeating disorders and alcohol and drug abuse.

Unfortunately, this may not be the case — at least not for everyone. The same New York Times author points out that:

The rules apply to group health insurance plans of the kind typically offered by employers. Federal health officials said the rules did not apply to the individual insurance market, where policies are sold directly to individuals and families. However, some states have laws that apply to the individual market.

Even if the laws apply to individual insurance buyers, it may not be enough. Robert Preidt’s article in BusinessWeek’s Health Day News from yesterday points out:

Fears about losing status at work and about confidentiality are among the main reasons that many American workers are more hesitant to seek treatment for mental health issues than for physical health problems, according to a national survey released this week by the American Psychiatric Association.

Very few of the editorials call for  what I think is equally necessary: equal and adequate treatment of mental illnesses in the prison system and administered by the courts.  Society’s destigmatized acceptance of mental health will take a lot longer.

Dear Governor Palin,

I understand that you want to be the VP of a party that thinks no one should ever be able have an abortion no matter what. And you don’t believe in teaching kids about sex and STD’s and birth control. AND your 17 year old daughter is pregnant, still in high school and not married. AND you don’t want us to talk about it because it is your family.

Well Mrs Governor, it doesn’t work that way.

You see, your policies and your republican platform are terrible! They don’t work! Here are some examples:

Abstinence-only sex ed defies common sense. Education policy spreads ignorance, sends confusing message to teens

“One in eight youth are sexually experienced, having engaged in intercourse, oral sex or both before the age of 14,” the Journal of Adolescent Health reported in 2006. According to the Project Connect study, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: * “9 percent reported ever having sexual intercourse…and 8 percent ever had oral sex (active or receptive).” * “Of those who reported intercourse, 36 percent were age 11 or younger at first sex, 27 percent were 12, 28 percent were 13, and 9 percent were 14 or older.” * “Alarmingly, 43 percent of sexually experienced participants reported multiple sex partners.”

Kate Walsh: Abstinence-Only “Not Working.” Cites One-In-Four Teen Girl STDs Rate In U.S. As Proof Fed-Sponsored Sex Ed Needs Broadening

So we do get to talk about your policies. And we do get to talk about hypocrisy. You asked us to repect your family’s privacy, but you won’t respect my family’s privacy to make our own decisions!

“Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that, as parents, we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned,” said Palin, 44, and her husband. “We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents.” They asked the media to respect their child’s privacy.

How come she gets to make a decision but the rest of the girls and women in America don’t! You won’t even let me learn in school about all the decisions I might need to make!

Governor Palin, when I had my first boyfriend, my brother talked to me and to him about why we shouldn’t have sex. Actually, we had to sit down in my boyfriend’s living room with his parents and my brother and hear all about STD’s and love and all the reasons we were too young for sex. AND they told us about condoms and other ways of preventing pregnancy even though we promised to keep all hands above the waist until at least 16.

Did you have a talk like that with Bristol and her boyfriend? Did anyone show him how to use a condom? These are fair questions because of the policies you advocate for.

I am glad that Bristol decided to have her baby. Will she and her boyfriend raise it? Will they give it up for adoption? Who is going to pay for her to give birth? And for all the other doctor visits?

If you want your family life to stay private, the please don’t bring your family on stage with you when you campaign, and please stop being a hypocrite.

Sincerely,

Cassie

I am sure that the legislators in Texas know that needle exchanges are much safer for drug addicts and for the public, but they’d rather act all judgmental towards addicts and the people who live near them. Sometimes I hate Texas! What is it like to live in a state that cares about the people?

Texas’ 1st needle-exchange program foiled by legal opinion

Bexar County officials will not move forward with what would have been the first legally sanctioned syringe-exchange program for drug addicts in Texas.

SAN ANTONIO — In the wake of a long-awaited opinion issued Monday by Attorney General Greg Abbott, Bexar County officials will not move forward with what would have been the first legally sanctioned syringe-exchange program for drug addicts in Texas.

The opinion essentially supports the view of District Attorney Susan Reed, who argued that the bill creating the local pilot program didn’t trump state drug laws and would leave county workers open to prosecution. The opinion left such prosecution to Reed’s discretion.

“We were hoping the attorney general would see the value of operating the sterile needle exchange in toto, which included the distribution of sterile needles,” said Aurora Sanchez, who as the county’s executive director of community and development programs is overseeing the pilot program. “But since it doesn’t do that, it appears to me we have to wait until the legislation is changed in 2009.”

Here is more from the article:

“Based on the previous approach she’s taken, I expect her to say she’s going to exercise her discretion to prosecute these wholly good-hearted people. That’s an unfortunate result,” said Neel Lane, an attorney with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which is representing the coalition at no cost.

“I think that the attorney general has reached an absurd conclusion that, in passing a law creating and funding a pilot needle exchange program, that the Legislature may nevertheless intended to prosecute those who carried out the program it funded,” Lane continued. “The practical effect of the opinion is to tell the Bexar County DA that she has the discretion to veto laws passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Perry.”

And this really helpful part! ***sarcasm***

Sanchez said the county would continue to provide educational materials to addicts to prevent the spread of disease.

On Blogging for Choice day, the 35th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision on abortion, I wrote a post right here about anti-abortion eighth graders at a Catholic school. That post was read on the air and discussed on the Head On Radio Network, and you can hear the whole discussion here. If I’d known it was on, I would have called in!

Click to listen. Click the FREE version.

(Also, if you know how to post an audio file to wordpress, please leave me a comment! Thanks!)

I just saw this and I think it is really warped. 

Kids: The New Voice In The Abortion Debate

The bell rang and the eighth graders jumped up, eager to compare notes.

“I named my baby Kyle Patrick,” one shouted.

“Mine is Antonio!”

At the urging of an antiabortion activist, they had each pledged to “spiritually adopt” a fetus developing in an unknown woman — to name it, love it from afar and above all, pray daily that the mother-to-be would not choose abortion.

“Maybe one day you’ll get to heaven and these people will come running to you . . . and say, ‘We’re all the little children you saved,’ ” activist Cristina Barba said. She smiled at the students in their Catholic school uniforms. “Maybe you really can make a difference.”

Thirty-five years after Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, opponents are pouring resources into building new generations of activists. Young people are responding with passion.

Today’s students and young adults have grown up in a time when abortion was widely accessible and acceptable, and a striking number are determined to end that era.

Pew Research Center polls dating back a decade show that 18- to 29-year-olds are consistently more likely than the general adult population to favor strict limits on abortion. A Pew survey over the summer found 22% of young adults support a total ban on abortion, compared with 15% of their parents’ generation.

Click here to continue reading

Here are some suggestions for those kids that might actually be more helpful than what they are doing:

  1. Learn more about how to NOT become pregnant.  This is called sex education.  The real stuff that includes contraceptives and how to use them.  Prayer might be less effective than condoms.  Just sayin’.
  2. Help change this country so that women who want to have babies can get daycare and healthcare and jobs that pay them enough to raise the babies.
  3. Spend your time opposing war, capital punishment, drunk driving, cancer, heart disease, child abuse and all of the other things that kill people.
  4. Help get national health care for the United States so that women who know their fetus will be a baby with health problems will be more likely to choose to have the baby.
  5. Focus on the choices you want to make for yourselves, but let the rest of us make OUR own choices.

By the way, this is my “blogging for choice” post. 

How many times a day do you click something on the computer? These clicks make a difference!

By Texas Betsy | January 15, 2008 – 4:15 pm –

pink breast cancer ribbonPlease tell ten friends to tell ten today! The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on ‘donating a mammogram’ for free (pink window in the middle).This doesn’t cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors /advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising. Here’s the web site! Pass it along to people you know.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

Also click these other links to help in other ways.

The Hunger Site The Breast Cancer Site The Child Health Site
The Literacy SiteThe Rainforest Site The Animal Rescue Site

Vaccine  I wrote about this issue once before. I am very glad that I got the vaccine and I hope that other states will do what Texas has done. Health care is more important than scaring girls into being celibate.

Here’s the update:

After controversy, more HPV vaccinations, doctors say

Some pediatricians say last year’s controversy over whether the state should mandate Texas schoolgirls to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus has translated into more individuals getting the vaccine.

“It’s really kind of an interesting thing – the controversy has really helped us get the word out,” said Chris Turley, vice chair for clinical services at the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Pediatrics Department.

“We really do have moms coming and asking for it. … People forget about the tetanus shot because it’s been around forever, but they come in knowing about this and wanting it for their daughters.”

Since July, Galveston-based UTMB pediatric clinics have been administering about 60 doses a month, Turley said.

Gov. Rick Perry set off a political furor last year by ordering that girls get the vaccine, which protects against a handful of HPV strains that cause cervical cancer. His action irritated conservatives and the Republican-controlled Legislature later undid his executive order.

Texas would have been the first state to require the immunizations.

Since then, the Virginia and New Jersey legislatures passed a school vaccine requirement, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.

HPV infects about 20 million people in the United States with 6.2 million new cases each year, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Perry’s office said he is pleased his actions have prompted Texas families to talk about the vaccine.

“As the numbers are showing, many girls are being vaccinated, and the governor views that as a positive result of generating this debate in Texas and throughout the nation,” Krista Piferrer said.

Though Perry can’t legally order the HPV vaccine for schoolgirls for at least three more years, Piferrer said he hasn’t given up the fight.

“The governor still believes this is a valuable tool to protect young girls against cancer,” she said.

UTMB pediatrics professor Dr. Martin Myers said there are still some unanswered questions – such as who would pay for the cost of the vaccine and what sort of demand would it create on its manufacturer – that still make the idea of mandating the vaccine premature.

There was a “considerable interest in the vaccine” in 2007, said Jack Sims, immunization branch manager of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

He did not have information about how many Texans were vaccinated last year, but he said the state was collecting that information for the first time in a survey to be released this spring.

These kids care about their health and the health of all their classmates. They protested, got suspended, got press, and MADE A DIFFERENCE! Now their school will be cleaned and even the other schools in their district. Good for them! (The part about their protest is at the end of the article in bold.)

Entire school system to be scrubbed after superbug case

PIKEVILLE, Kentucky (AP) — An eastern Kentucky school district with one confirmed case of antibiotic-resistant staph infection plans to shut down all 23 of its schools Monday, affecting about 10,300 students, to disinfect the facilities.

 

art.staph.ap.jpg

Workers clean a classroom in Chicago, Illinois. Staph infections have spread recently through several schools.

The project will involve disinfecting classrooms, restrooms, cafeterias, hallways, locker rooms, buses and even external areas such as playgrounds and sports fields, said Roger Wagner, superintendent of Pike County schools.

“We’re not closing schools because there’s been a large number of breakouts, but as a preventive measure,” Wagner said.

One Pike County student was diagnosed with in September with MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The bacterial strain can be treated with other antibiotics, but without treatment it can be deadly.

The bacteria was blamed for the death of a 17-year-old Virginia high school senior and a 12-year-old New York City middle school student this month.

At least seven students on New York’s Long Island were recently diagnosed with MRSA, as were 10 members of an athletic team at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York.

However, a government report has estimated it may sicken more than 90,000 Americans each year.

Two weeks ago, students staged a sit-in at the lunch room of Pike Central High School in effort to get school officials to clean the school as protection against the bacteria.

Most abandoned the sit-in after Principal David Rowe threatened them with a three-day suspension, but 33 stayed and were given the choice of one day of in-school suspension or two days out-of-school suspension.

Three chose out-of-school suspension.

Isn’t it bad enough that the republicans wanted to start a war in Iraq when Iraq was not threatening us?  And then they mismanaged the whole war and still can’t get the electricity turned on?  And they tortured prisoners.  And they let the contractors run around killing everybody.  But that’s not all.  NOW there’s a new problem with Iraq: cholera, a painful and deadly disease.

 

IRAQ: Fear among refugees as cholera crosses border

BAGHDAD, 7 October 2007 (IRIN) – Despite the efforts of the Iraqi government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to contain a recent cholera outbreak, the disease has already spread to half of the country and has also crossed the border into Iran, according to WHO and Iranian authorities.

Photo: Many children living in displacement camps are suffering from acute diarrhoea. This child, who lives in a camp near the Syrian border, is suspected to have cholera

Photo: Afif Sarhan/IRIN

Refugee camps on Iraq’s borders and inside Iran, Syria and Jordan have been warned of the outbreak by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

 

The Bushies talk a good game about valuing every life, but we can see from their actions that they are talking about UNBORN children and not sick, Iraqi children that already exist.  They don’t care, but we can.  Red Crescent and Red Cross are collecting money to fight cholera in Iraq and the countries that it borders.

bush's legacyIt seems that George W is concerned about his legacy, and he is talking to a biographer named Robert Draper:

In book, Bush peeks ahead to his legacy

In an interview with a book author in the Oval Office one day last December, President George W. Bush daydreamed about the next phase of his life, when his time will be his own.

The articles talks about these kinds of issues

First, Bush said, “I’ll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol’ coffers.” With joint assets that have been estimated at as high as nearly $21 million, Bush added, “I don’t know what my dad gets – it’s more than 50-75” thousand dollars a speech, and “Clinton’s making a lot of money.”

Then he said, “We’ll have a nice place in Dallas,” where he will be running what he called “a fantastic Freedom Institute” promoting democracy around the world. But he added, “I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch.”

and

The transcripts and the book show Bush as being keenly interested in what history will say about his term despite his frequent comments to the contrary; as being in a reflective mode as his time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue dwindles; and, ultimately, as being at once sorrowful and optimistic – but virtually alone as commander in chief, and aware of it.

Here is the worst line in the whole article:

And in apparent reference to the invasion of Iraq, he continued, “This group-think of ‘we all sat around and decided’ – there’s only one person that can decide, and that’s the president.”

HE just wants to make money, but I think that his real legacy will include these:

  1. a million people dead because of wars that we started
  2. 3000 dead at Ground Zero, flight 93 and the Pentagon, with bin Ladin still on the loose and not even a suspect by the CIA
  3. an unsolved anthrax terrorism case that killed five people
  4. increased opium exports all around the world
  5. privatization of everything from highways to schools to prisons hospitals to the maintenance of Walter Reed hospital and rehab
  6. many millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans with no access to decent health care when they need it
  7. the drowning of a city and a whole section of another state
  8. hard times for poor people, and a whole lot more poor people
  9. most of his administration resigning on him, and some of them being investigated and tried and convicted for crimes
  10. having the whole world hate us
  11. almost (I hope) starting a war with Iran
  12. stealing elections
  13. having hookers in the white house pretending to be reporters
  14. the giant corporations having a super time while the planet heats up and regular people suffer
  15. high gas prices and high prices to heat houses
  16. spying on Americans without a warrant or even telling the FISA court
  17. locking up Americans for years without a trial
  18. locking up thousands of other people in torture camps with no lawyers and no rights
  19. making students only learn stuff that is tested in April and not the important things in each subject

I bet George won’t talk about those things when he has speaking tours. (He’ll get more for one talk than my whole family has in a year!) What do you think his legacy will be? Can someone please call the Hague?

Like most of my political posts, this is cross-posted at
Political Teen Tidbits and at YouThinkLeft.

When I was in elementary school, I went to a really old school. It was OK, but not new. A lot of neighborhoods in my town had newer schools and I always thought it would be cool to go to one. Mine was fine, but a new one looked like it would be cool. Everything pretty and clean. But I just saw this in the paper and I am glad I went where I did. NO WAY would I go to a school like this? What were they thinking when they decided to build it on the site of a chemical company? Who is checking that it is safe? Who is double-checking? And why didn’t they test the water before now? Is this going to be one of those places where half the kids have cancer in 10 years and then they still won’t shut it?

State says school is safe but needs tests before opening

School is planned to open on the site of a former chemical company

Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

State officials say that an elementary school opening on the site of a former chemical company is safe but that the groundwater on the property needs to be tested before the school opens in the Leander district next year.

Officials with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said the tests are necessary to determine whether harmful vapors found at the 40-acre site had reached the water, 70 to 80 feet below.
The water would not pose a threat to people at the school if vapors are found, but it could affect karsts and creatures that live in the water, said Alan Batcheller, director of the commission’s remediation division.

He said the tests are an environmental issue, not a “health effects issue.”

“Based on everything we’ve looked at, and Leander ISD has collected a lot of information … there are no reasons to believe that the building cannot be converted to a school,” he said.

The commission has been reviewing the site for months and issued its final report to the district and a roomful of parents during a town hall meeting Monday night.

“They agree we may open the school and it’s a safe place for students and teachers,” district spokesman Bill Britcher said.

The findings came as a relief to most parents, some of whom raised concerns about harmful chemicals, such as mercury, found on the site.

“There really were no surprises,” said Kelli Merchant, the school’s Parent Teacher Association president. “I’m just ready to put this all to rest and move forward.”

Last month, the panel ranked the site a “moderate to high potential hazard.”

Until 2003, the chemical company Sasol North America Inc. operated a research and development facility on the site, using chemicals to produce products such as shampoos and soaps.

The commission recommended that the district build a well on the site to test the ground water and show whether the vapors are naturally occurring or man-made, Batcheller said.

The recommendations add to ones made by Weston Solutions, an environmental engineering firm hired by the district to test the site.

In May, the firm said the site was safe but recommended testing during the first year Grandview Hills Elementary is open.

The district will meet with the commission and Weston Solutions to determine the next step, Superintendent Tom Glenn said.


mmixon@statesman.com, 512- 246-0043

Here is a TV report on the same school.