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REDUCING HEALTH DISPARITIES THROUGH TECHNOLOGY | CREATED FOR STUDENTS BY STUDENTS

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Category: Health Articles Articles

by Marcel Souffrant

November 19, 2015

Mental Health Among My College Peers

I wish that individuals suffering from mental health issues could feel the embrace of support on a national scale.  I think about the utilization of pink to express the support of breast cancer and seeing it on television, on football fields, and on college campuses.  I think of the hope that comes with such support, and I long for something similar in regards to mental illness.  The American Psychological Association reported that 44% of the patients who visited college counseling services “had severe psychological problems.”  This number, however high, does not begin to tell the full story on mental health, especially in the college aged demographic.  The stigma surrounding mental health issues is often silencing, which is why it must be spoken about deliberately.  In the last year, NC State has lost two students to on-campus suicides, and even more outside of campus.  This is to say the least, both concerning and devastating.

        

I am very thankful of my parents for raising me to be a compassionate friend and an attentive listener. They modeled for me to listen without judging and as a result I believe many of my friends have felt comfortable sharing openly with me their stress and worries. Some may say I am a bit hypersensitive to the mental health of others, I don't mind that personality trait. In a recent conversation with my mother who has practiced as a psychotherapist for over 20 years, she reminded me that one of the biggest barriers to young adults seeking help for their mental health is the role that stigma plays in our society.  The reality of stigma is that it perpetuates isolation, shame, and hopelessness.  It is understandable that individuals with emotional distress would be hesitant to ask for help in this environment.

As a society, we are generally unaware of the level of struggle that college students face with regard to mental health.  There are students who walk in the dark every day without feeling supported and it is up to us as friends, faculty, acquaintances, classmates, and a community to help break the silence, increase awareness and show more compassion to those suffering from mental illness. We have both an individual and collective responsibility to support each other, this is the only way out of the stigma of mental illness.

Follow @myhealthimpact for real talk on often hard topics.

#mentalhealth #collegestudents #stigma #supportsystems

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by Marcel Souffrant

April 30, 2015

Heart Health in Young Athletes

When we are young we are told and reminded of the importance of exercise and why we need to remain active.  My parents were sure to emphasize the benefits of physical activity and to this day, continue to do so.  This is why it often surprises me when I hear of professional athletes passing away from heart attacks and cardiovascular related health issues.  These are people whose career is centered on remaining active and physically fit, but there is no certainty that these habits remained after they’re playing careers came to an end.  More striking however is the seemingly prevalent occurrence of young athletes, at the high school and college age, who have suddenly passed due to cardiac arrest.  It is estimated by the American Academy of Pediatrics that “2,000 people under the age of 25 die from sudden cardiac arrest in the United States every year.”  This is a striking figure because this encompasses a group of young adults who generally, are at the peak of their physical fitness.

Perhaps one of the more prominent stories in the last year is the story of Isaiah Austin.  Austin, a former basketball player at Baylor University, declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft last year.  After the plethora of tests conducted by the National Basketball Association it was discovered that he could never play competitive basketball again, four days before the draft.  Isaiah Austin suffered from Marfan syndrome, which caused an enlargement of his aorta.  The combination of aortic enlargement and extreme physical exertion, as he would be subject to as a professional basketball player, made him susceptible to a rupture of his heart.   This was the exact fate of Flo Hyman, an Olympic volleyball player, who passed away on the court due to a rupture of her aorta in 1986.

The story of Isaiah Austin generated some, but not a lot of conversation about the health of young athletes.  Austin had been living with this condition and could have met his fate at any point during his athletic career at Baylor University.  Fortunately this did not happen, but many student-athletes do not have the same luck.  Every year there are stories of high school and college students who collapse on the athletic field, and most of these cases of sudden cardiac arrest are due to structural defects of the heart.  This begs many to ask the question, should we increase the testing of our amateur athletes before they can play?  Had it not been for the depth at which the National Basketball Association looks into the health of their players, the discovery of Isaiah Austin’s aortic enlargement may not have come until it was too late.

The message of remaining healthy and maintaining regular exercise is important and effective.  We must also include the message to be aware and responsible for our health.  School systems, colleges, and doctor’s offices should encourage student athletes and their families to become aware of their health.  The opportunity to curtail the sudden death of student-athletes is available.  These institutions have the ability to provide families with a stronger understanding of their health, and it should be capitalized on. Follow @myHealthimpact for more on #Health #Tech #Culture and views of #youngPeople.  See us on YouTube, and follow us on Tumblr.

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by Research Scholars

April 09, 2015

Sexual Health Education

                   

Denae

It was in elementary school that we had our first sexual education course. It was either 5th or 6th grade that we marched into my Science Teacher’s room to hear the real truth about the birds and the bees. Of course, our parents had to sign a permission slip in order for us to get the life lesson. The funny thing is I barely remember anything about that class. All I remember is that we sat down we talked about different types of condoms, pregnancy, and maybe chromosomes.  My parents never had ‘The Talk’ with my siblings, and I so this class was the closest thing to it.

It wasn’t until I had a Sex Education class my ninth grade year in High School that I had to witness the miracle of child birth. In this class, we watched videos and talked about the entire sexual reproductive system. After that, there were no other topics on that until I got to college.

                 

Marcel

From a very young age, I was made aware that there were differences between “boys” and “girls”.  I faintly remember a time in second or third grade where they took each student in the class and pointed to two dolls, mentioning there were differences and that it was inappropriate to touch certain areas of each doll.  But this was not a true introduction to human sexuality.  I took had a 5th grade class where we learning about family living, ethical behavior, and human sexuality.  It was here that I learned of abstinence and its importance in remaining healthy.  When I entered high school, I finally learned about contraception, STDs and STIs, but for many this is much too late.

I have the great fortune of having a psychotherapist as a mother.  She has worked with adolescents for a long majority of her career, and has always been very open with my brother and me about what is and is not appropriate.  My sexual education may have begun earlier than many, but my mother’s experience with adolescents who had experienced sexual violence or had committed acts of sexual violence against others forced her hand.  My brother and I were taught early on about our bodies, respecting ourselves, and showing the utmost respect for others.

                     

KaMar

I remember going to my PE class in the fourth grade excited to finally let off some steam and play with my friends. It was Friday which meant free day aka everyone grab a basketball and find the nearest hoop. However, today would be different as my PE teacher split up the group into boys and girls. The girls were taken to another classroom while the boys were instructed to sit on the gymnasium floor. Up above was a rolling TV cart and my PE Teacher explaining to the boys group that he forgot to mention during the last class that he had to teach us about how our bodies change as we get older. Naturally, we weren’t trying to hear it, but we sat and listened hoping we would get just 5 minutes at the end of class to throw up a few baskets.

We ended up watching a long and boring film that never spoke about how our bodies changed over time but rather depicted various sex organs, including their scientific name, while narrated in a robotic tone. Thinking back to the actual footage, I cannot understand how something so incredibly stale could be shown to fourth graders! At a time where young students gravitate towards shows on Disney, Nickelodeon, PBS, and other children focused networks, it’s mind boggling to note this film as my introduction into the sexual reproduction cycle. I am not alone on this issue as sex education is anything but standardized. At present, only 22 states require sex education in schools, and only 19 require that sex education is medically, technically or factually accurate. With those numbers, I wonder if sex education is meant to teach young minds about sexual health or just a course with a checkbox?

 

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by KaMar Galloway

January 25, 2015

Not Another Wearable Technology

As smartphones have become more commonplace in today’s society, technologists have been in search of the next big thing. We’ve gone from adding touchscreens to everything (home appliances, car infotainment systems) to using gestures to interact with the world around us -- think the Minority Report.

After all, the future world we live in is just a guess or figment of the imagination. This magical nature of tomorrow is on display every year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) down in desert plaid Las Vegas. Where high rollers shell out tons of money on personal bets and invest in small start-ups that hail from all over the world. The comos surrounding CES has been a bit different the past few years, as more savvy players have introduced hardware at the center of their enterprise. Wearables, the heir to smartphones are slowly sweeping the conference floor. From recognizable names like Fitbit and Pebble to up and comers with Android Wear as their understudy -- every manufacturer has tossed their hat in the ring.

Besides telling the time, they all claim to do one thing well: help you reach your fitness goals.

  • track steps
  • take pulse
  • measure blood pressure
  • monitor heart rate

That was last year!

In 2015 the trend is now shifting towards real health applications:

  • diagnose skin cancer
  • examine menstrual cycle
  • tell how well your lungs are working
  • transmit physiological information to doctors
  • treat depression
  • and so much more…

With electronics and health care merging together ever so slightly, technologists will no longer have to ponder about what’s next. Wearables will cement the next revolution that is as fashion forward as it is helpful in quantifying your life.

Stay tuned to @myhealthimpact for more discoveries and technology driven solutions to a healthier future.

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by Victor Ajewole

October 29, 2014

Killing Two Birds with One Pebble, Wearable Technology

Do you need a smartwatch? Probably not, but at the same time, we don’t really need cell phones either. Now what does a smart watch have that my cell phone can’t give me? Well, to be honest, nothing. I’m not here to give a sales pitch, but to give you a better visual on how I use my Pebble watch. Pebble watch you say?, the thing that came out last year? Yes. You mean that thing that only displays in black and white? Yes. You mean that watch that doesn’t even have a touch screen? YES!!!

         

Now the Pebble watch is not the latest tech in wearables but its still great. The biggest problems with wearable technology now, is the never ending questions, “why would someone want to wear this?” I can tell that the people who had to test the usability of this device knew what they were looking for. There are some key features that I truly love about this watch. Heres some key features:

Key Features

  • Read text
  • Haptic Feedback
  • Event reminders
  • Pedometer
  • Controls music (Soundcloud)
  • Battery Life (5-7 days)

           

Follow us at @myHealthImpact as we continue to discuss important topics around technology and your physical health.

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by Ebony Baldwin

August 13, 2014

“Selfies” and Mental Health Disorders

Experts including Dr. Lucie Hemmen and Dr. David Veal are beginning to consider a compulsion to take selfies as a serious mental health problem. Individuals can spend hours, even days taking hundreds of selfies in an attempt to capture the “perfect” photo (McKay). Taking selfies can lead to technology addiction and Body Dysmorphic Disorder — a chronic mental health condition in which the sufferer obsesses over perceived flaws with their body. In addition to that, it has been proven by multiple studies that taking selfies can be detrimental to a person’smental health, and it can be linked to narcissism, depression, and low self-esteem.

So how can we fix this problem? First, we have to realize that there is a deep denial about how dangerous it is to interact with screens without setting limits on how much time is spent doing so. With that said, it is hard to convince people that the effects of taking selfies are serious. Nevertheless, the common treatment of taking selfies is gradually learning how to go for longer periods of time without satisfying the urge to take a photograph, along with therapy to address the root cause of the problem. Thus, learning how to use selfies in moderation. Selfies, if used properly, can be a feel-good and often creative way, to chronicle one’s life and emotions and express one’s personality.

 

In conclusion, know this—According to clinical psychologist Lucie Hemmen there is a continuum of health and authenticity in what you shoot and post (McKay). A secure, mature person is going to post selfies that are spontaneous and not overly engineered or edited, and they're going to do it less often. A more insecure person is going to post staged or sexualized photos, and they're going to do it so much that they become consumed by it and the comments they receive. Let’s not let selfies control our mental health.

 

 

McKay, Tom. "A Psychiatric Study Reveals Selfies Are Far More Dangerous than You Think." PolicyMic. N.p., 28 Mar. 2014. Web. 16 June 2014. <http://www.policymic.com/articles/86287/a-psychiatric-study-reveals-selfies-are-far-more-dangerous-than-you-think>.

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by Keiara Morris

July 30, 2014

Women’s Role in Men Health

Not to generalize all men but I know that the guys around my house used to absolutely despise going to the doctor because they felt like it was a waste of time. They believed that ALL could be healed with anything in the medicine cabinet and band-aids. This was my Dad before he suffered from a heart attack. These days I feel like our family dynamic is a little different. My Dad definitely doesn’t mind going to the doctor now and instead suggests healthy options at the dinner table.

My Mother and I are the only two females in my household and although my Dad has taken a different role in the health of our family, at the end of the day, the women keep things realistic and rational. There are many food options that my Dad brings to the table, but we (the women) figure out how to make these things work for our family or how to politely tell him “No, we’ll pass on that one”. From incorporating more fish, chicken and turkey into our diets and working out pork and beef to even starting our own family garden, our family has been made a complete lifestyle change. What’s an idea without someone to put it into action? Right, just an idea.

I believe that women play a huge role in men’s health. Typically because women are more aware of the signs of pending health issues thus sending up a red flag and ensuring that the men (in our families) see a doctor. So let's just face it, we are the backbone!

       

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by Ebony Baldwin

March 06, 2014

Are Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) still a taboo subject?

Sexually Transmitted Diseases, STDs, have become a topic of discussion that many people feel uncomfortable talking about and try not to think about them, hoping they will go away. As of now there are more than 25 diseases that are transmitted sexually. The organisms, which can cause these diseases usually, enter the body through mucous membranes—such as the surfaces of the vagina, urethra, anus, and mouth.

Listing of Common STDs

How are Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Caught?

Sexually transmitted diseases can be caught through intimate contact with someone who is infected, especially during oral, anal, or vaginal sex. However, some infections are also transmitted nonsexually. Sexually active college-age men and women are at the highest risk for contracting STDs. With that said, it is important for college students to use protection and get tested regularly.

Symptoms of STDs can be unnoticeable and can lead to more issues if not treated. As adults, it is our responsibility to stay educated on the topic of STDs and continue to utilize health institutions for help and guidance.

If that isn’t enough motivation for you, below are some examples of STDs and images of their effects. I hope this information gives you the courage to help spread the awareness of this issue and practice safe sex, as well as, getting tested.

Pictures of Common STDs

 

  

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by Julian Cobb

February 27, 2014

Condoms Don’t Protect From Everything

Some people think they know everything there is to know about sexually transmitted diseases.  The possibility of catching gonorrhea, syphilis, or even HIV is a scary thought- but some have that perception that they won’t catch anything. Maybe you wear condoms during sexual intercourse so you think that you’re good and have nothing to worry about, right? Well, I must inform you that condoms don’t protect from everything. Even some of the most elite individuals in society are walking around with sexually transmitted diseases. Yes- this is not a joke. 

Did You Know Condoms Have a Fail Rate?

Statistics show that condoms have an annual 11% fail rate. Not so safe as you imagined after all… Even when condoms are used, they do not fully protect from sexually transmitted diseases that are passed by skin-to-skin contact. Just this statement alone opens the door for many diseases to walk in and take residence in your body if you are not careful. 

Here are some tips you can use in order to lower your risk of catching an STD:

1. Get Tested. Use STD Testing to Know Your Status!

This may sound like an obvious answer but there are still so many people who do not know their std status. I will admit that you fear what you do not know. Having a close friend to go get tested with you can help eliminate that fear you have. That “what if” question will continue to linger until you make the decision to know you status for yourself. We have a specific area on the myHealthImpact website where you can type in your zip code and you will be informed of testing locations that are close to you.

2: Know the Safe Sex Facts For Yourself

There are so many resources available that will provide information on safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases. Saying that you were not informed anymore can no longer be an excuse. Sometimes you have to take the initiative to seek out information for yourself. Ultimately, how can you inform someone about STDs if you don’t know about them yourself?

3. Abstinence.

This is something that the younger generation doesn’t hear a lot about anymore. The media is constantly portraying sex in advertisements, song lyrics and online which makes it seem acceptable. Remaining abstinent until marriage is the only way you will be able to know your status for sure. You don’t run the risk of catching a sexually transmitted disease or early parenthood. This may seem challenging but it is possible. Make a promise to yourself that you will honor and protect your body. Anytime you find yourself being tempted, remember that promise you made to yourself. It will be worth the wait for that special someone.

                    

These diseases are REAL people. While all sexually transmitted diseases don’t lead to death, some of them do. Whether you continue to have sex before marriage or wait until marriage is totally up to you. Whatever you decide, I encourage you to be safe. While condoms do protect from some STDs, they don’t protect from everything. Just keep that in mind.

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by Victor Ajewole

February 16, 2014

Smart Condoms: Could These Be The Best Condoms Created to Date?

As we all know condoms do not prevent all sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexual transmitted infections (STIs) during sex. Well why not build a better condom.  Last November the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation received over 812 entries for the “Build-a-better-condom” competition.  A reported 11 entries received a grant of $100,000 to produce their condoms and hopefully bridge the gap for condom innovation. This is where tech meets health.

Over the course of a long history, the condom hasn't changed that much.


Talk about a smart condoms. Some of these entries range from polymer based composite materials to biologically engineering material for a “significant enhancement for male pleasure.” These “next-gen” condoms may be what consumers are looking for when taking safe sex more seriously.

Developer Lakshminarayanan Ragupathy from Trivandrum, India, has an entry named “The warm embrace”, which incorporates composites for high heat transfer, but also drugs that would enhance safety.  Not only is his design super thin and strong, it’s also very flexible.

Now here’s a question, how much would you pay for a condom that you couldn’t feel and worked 99.99% of the time?

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In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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