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Month: February 2017

Sexual Health

Sexual Health

This week’s class topic is very eye opening to me. For 19 years of my life, I was not aware that students were being taught about sexual health. I’m from Memphis, Tn and we were shown a youtube video that was about 10-15 minutes long when we were in the 7th grade. The girls were separated from the boys and the topic of our video was how penis erections worked. This is tragic and almost unethical in terms of the grand scheme of things. Predominately in the south sexual intercourse is viewed as an act of fun or a regular activity as if you were going to workout at the gym with a friend of the opposite sex. The majority of my friends and I became sexually active before or soon after we were shown the “educational video”.  Together we can construct and implement a strategy to get our nation more educated as one unit.

Being a U.S citizen you withhold the obligation to attend school until you are a legal age by the government’s standards. My entire academic career I have been taking classes because it was required in order for me to graduate. As a number of years I spend in school gets greater and greater the freedom of my class choice grows as well. In my opinion there should be a nationwide class that is required to take in high school while everyone’s body is getting more mature and the peak of sexual hormones are being released, I would suggest freshman year. What are some ways to eliminate the gap in education that we have nationwide on a local, state, and national level? How important is sexual education, and can it lead to a decrease in sexual assault?

Sexual Health

Sexual Health

Coming from a diverse high school in a suburb of Chicago, the sexual education I’ve experienced was very informative, unbiased, and respectful to all individual preferences and views of sexual health. Therefore, I was surprised with the various close-minded forms of sexual education that many of my fellow classmates have experienced. I found many of the stories told to be ridiculous and appalling. In my opinion, sexual health education should solely provide necessary information to understand the physical, mental, and emotional effects of sex as well as how to practice sex in a safe and healthy manner. Educators should not force biased believes upon youth, especially when it pertains to their sexual health. Like we mentioned in lecture, these educational tactics (abstinence-only, fear-based, etc.) have only decreased the sexual health among students. Sexual health is important because an unexpected pregnancy or contraction of an STI can not only affect an individual’s physical and mental health, but also hinder an individual’s educational and career goals in the long-run. In order to improve sexual health, sexual education needs to be standardized so everyone receives the same comprehensive education. How should we better educate our youth about sexual health? Why has research shown that biased health educations decrease the sexual health of students?

Unnatural Causes

Unnatural Causes

The video that we saw in class this week was not very surprising because it’s obvious that lower socioeconomic status will result in fewer resources. That means less money to buy healthy food and to purchase living quarters in an area that has less crime, fewer environment health hazards, and a better neighborhood. The result of these inequalities comes in the form of higher rates of obesity, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a slew of other negative health problems. Life expectancy is cut short, as shown by the graphics in the video. This makes me wonder: how much of a person’s health is about their life choices and how much is due to their environment? No one is raised in a vacuum, but we can’t blame society entirely for people’s shortcomings. It’s a lot easier to be healthier in high socioeconomic status, so that presents another question: What can we do to reduce the incidence of negative health problems in lower-income communities? We could have initiatives to grow gardens to provide fresh vegetables in communities, make huge efforts to reduce crime (which would reduce stress levels), clean up the environment so how. What are your thoughts?

Chronic Stressors

Chronic Stressors

The video Unnatural Causes delved deeper into issues that have been in the media and the public eye a lot more often than usual lately. The politics surrounding healthcare are confusing, but this video explained healthcare disparities in a detailed yet comprehensible fashion. One of the most important parts of this video was its description of chronic stressors. It described that although everyone is affected by stress, the level of pressure felt depends on the person’s power, control, and access to resources to manage stressors. This reminded of a TED Talk I recently attended given by the Executive Director of the Detroit Health Department, Abdul El-Sayed. He discussed how he recently advised an African American woman living in a Detroit neighborhood to start eating healthier and taking daily walks. She responded that there wasn’t a grocery store with healthy food she could make herself within walking distance (since she didn’t have a car), so she had to eat fast food everyday. She also said that since she works two jobs, she doesn’t get home until 7pm each evening, by which time it’s too dark to walk in her unsafe neighborhood. This is the kind of systematic disadvantage that so many of people of color have to deal with everyday. It’s so easy for people not in this class position to simply say “exercise more” or “eat healthier”, but so much more impractical to actually put into practice. With these circumstances, it’s difficult to know where to even begin to try fix this. My question to you all is what kind of policies do you think we can enforce to try to eliminate health disparities? What is the first step?

Stress is Economically Based

Stress is Economically Based

Watching the movie Unnatural Causes made me think about inequities in a new way. Much of what was said echoes my Anthropology 101 class. We learned both in class and the movie how inequities are largely racially based. However, these inequities resulted from systemic racism by our government through the formation of policies throughout history that put African-Americans at a disadvantage. A specific example from the movie was the GI bill after World War II. The bill was passed to provide housing for soldiers and their families once they returned from war. However, this bill was not afforded to African-American soldiers. Over time, most of these families wealth became tied to the property they owned and thus, white families began to accumulate wealth in a way African-Americans could not resulting in a massive wealth inequity which still exists today. And as the movie mentioned several times, economic security plays a large role in the amount of stress a family has to deal with.

In order to remedy this inequity along with the many others, we need policies in place that motivate the fortunate to help the disadvantaged. I feel as though many policies fail because the people in power feel as though passing a bill to help the less fortunate somehow takes money away from them. Overcoming this “us against them” mindset is key in order to move towards change.

My question to you all is, “Do you believe in our current political climate we have the ability to reach health/economic equity?”

Dx: Long Term Stress

Dx: Long Term Stress

The video, Unnatural Causes, drew attention to the economic and racial inequalities that exist in the world today- emphasizing the differences in incomes, living conditions, access to resources, and education between families of different socioeconomic status.

On top of all the stressors mentioned in the video, additional stressors may include having an adequate income to provide for the family (both in terms of food & shelter), being able to afford health care coverage, easy access to health care resources, transportation, insurance costs, and the stress to be able to send your children to school all are factors to adding more stress to people’s daily lives depending on their SES. In terms of class position, individuals with higher SES tend to live in safer neighborhoods, live a more affluent lifestyle, and are less worried about job instability & family income. Not to necessarily say that people at the top don’t face daily pressures in their lives, but that they are more likely to have power and resources to manage those pressures. On the other hand, individuals with lower class positions face greater exposures that can cause even more upset to their daily lives including lack of health insurance, uncontrolled debt, small and compact homes, noisy living conditions, job instability, and unreliable transportation. Social conditions such as the jobs we partake in, the income we receive, the schools we attend, and the neighborhoods we live in all are societal factors that create and reinforce stressors. While some neighborhoods have easy access to healthy, affordable produce, others may only have convenience stores, fast foods, and liquor stores. Additionally, individual behaviors such as smoking, drinking, exercising, and dieting all play a role in impacting our health.

Past and present discrimination has been seen by many people of color in terms of housing, jobs, and education, and has left many of them sitting in the lower half the SES ladder. Racism can impose may health burdens including segregation, social exclusion, stereotyping, access and treatment by the health care system. Inequalities in health from both racial and income disparities have existed for decades and have been the result of decisions that we, as a society, have made, therefore it is up to us to change this- to promote cultural diversity, to become more conscious and aware of our feelings, and to educate ourselves and others around us about this issue.

Stress via socioeconomic status and race

Stress via socioeconomic status and race

When someone says stress, us college kids have no reaction because stress is a normal thing that is built into our lives. As much as we feel like we literally are stress, the noun, we do not suffer much compared to a lot of people. In discussion we learned about the immense levels of stress that people of lower socioeconomic status have to deal with whether it be the neighborhood they live in is unsafe or being uncertain about how one will put food on the table.

 

Being in a lower socioeconomic status comes with its own stressors, so people apart of this community that also have to deal with racism have an even more dramatic health deficits than those who do not. Not only do they have to worry about struggling financially and all that comes with that, but they have  to worry about how others around them are perceiving them and deal with being judged by nothing other than the color of their skin.

 

We have all seen the news articles with the headlines about people of African American descent being unrightfully shot by a Caucasian police officer, or someone being assaulted for wearing a headscarf and someone assuming they are a terrorist when it means nothing other than religious and cultural purposes. We have seen first hand racism right here at U of M where everyone is suppose to be open minded and accepting. In lower income areas, this is emphasized and the repercussions for it are limited.

 

My question for all of you is what are some additional stressors that racism might impose?

Change, Policy, and the Long Road Ahead

Change, Policy, and the Long Road Ahead

A prominent medical professional at Stanford once said “Pay attention to what makes you angry. That’s your issue choosing you.” In recent times, the alarming disparities in health equality and social justice have outlined America’s shadow. Many of the people residing in this country, whether residents or immigrants, have begun to feel undermined and neglected. This only catalyzes the gap in health equity between those of higher socioeconomic status, different races and cultures, and those who truly do believe in the American dream. While my thoughts here are not meant to be political or divisive, I simply wish to give my opinion on these things that have both enlightened and aggravated me.

No matter the issue that is brought to light, the first step in any pathway of resolution is simple: acknowledge the problem. While those in classes or passionate about these issues understand the implications of the gap in equity, many others don’t. These issues, first and foremost, need to be brought to light in a simple and factual matter. As we have seen recently in many news outlets and developments, the importance of evidence and factual certainties are eroding to those in charge of its change. The data that is recorded and stored needs to be synthesized and presented in a feasible and pragmatic way. Those in the field of public health and medicine have already started this. But more exposure, more understanding, more compassion is needed to change this.

In terms of specific policy, I believe that education and fiscal policy is the best tool to initially combat this lack in equity. As we have seen in class, a higher socioeconomic status is correlated to an increase in health certainty and healthcare. While it is not a guarantee that wealth will provide more resolution, the people more at risk for a health equity loss need resources to provide healthcare and promote well-being. Fiscally, this is one avenue in which policy can be enacted towards. As we have seen, the implementation of the Affordable Health Care act was meant to provide those fiscally and socially challenged with healthcare options. While some may not have agreed at its nuances, its idea and soul is something that is recognized by those across both sides of the isle.  A change in fiscal policy can also lead to an overall growth of society as those with more money, arguably, can provide a pathway for those who need it to stand on their own. The morals of this issue can be debated at an another time but in general, fiscal responsibility is needed to initiate a change.

Education, however, remains the most important aspect of change. Simply put, if one is not informed on the issue, then a judgment cannot be made which is both accurate and reflective of the situation. Disregarding “alternate” ideas and stories, knowledge of the issue and its research is important for everyone to understand to resolve the issue.

Barring any intensive debates and disputes, what do you believe is the best avenue for change? Do you think that it is more important for action to be taken first or knowledge to be presented?

 

Thanks! Have fun discussing!

Chronic Stressors

Chronic Stressors

On top of all of the stressors mentioned in the movie, other times where the release of cortisol is initiated can include credit card debt, student loan debt, having to worry about clean water, and worrying about your children’s education.

Have you ever seen those commercials for those anti-depressants of a man/woman walking around with a stormy cloud over their head while the rest of the world around them is glimmering and sunny? This is what it is like for people with credit card debt. The thought of their financial issues hangs like a dark cloud over people’s heads making even the brightest of days darker. The same goes for student loan debt. No matter what a person is trying to do, their is always that ache in the back of their mind that they are thousands of dollars in debt. Unfortunately, high interest rates help to create and reinforce these debt stressors which means people are stuck with their debt for decades.

Worry that stems from issues of dirty water and poor education for one’s kids can also lead to chronic stress and mostly only affect the poorer class of people. Availability to clean water and good education comes from living in wealthier neighborhoods and unfortunately many poorer neighborhoods must purchase expensive water filters or take long transportation rides in order to get to good schools.

Other worries stemmed from racism can create chronic stress. In particular, predominantly African-American or Muslim neighborhoods must worry about the threat of police violence simply for the reason of these people’s ethnicities. This can lead to high amounts of stress when someone is simply walking down the streets everyday.

These are just some stressors that occur in poorer class citizens lives. Can any of you name anymore? How can we fix these inequities?

Life Is Stressful!

Life Is Stressful!

In the film we watched, we learned about the many negative health factors caused by stress. While knowing that stress is bad for your health is not news, I believe that many of us were surprised to learn how. Of course, some stress is good as it motivates us to succeed. Stress is often caused by the fear of failure and in an academic setting it is clear how having a reasonable amount of stress is healthy. After-all, stress is caused by the release of the hormone cortisol and as we have been told many times, hormone imbalance is natural. A college campus is naturally a stressful place at times; we walk into the library during mid terms or finals and can tell by the mere atmosphere that our peers are stressed. Often I feel comforted by knowing that the people around me are experience similar levels of stress and beyond that I know that others are comforted by the multitude of resources made available to students.

However, not everyone has access to support circles, and coping mechanisms that are so prevalent on current college campuses across the country. Because stress can be subjective, everyone responds to it differently and therefore it is difficult operationalize. It is not possible to say that person A is under more stress than person B because stress can each individual differently. Because stress is so hard to define, I grapple with how some areas have more support for individuals than others. So often we are hear “suck it up” or “at least…” but stress is a real problem and causes real problems. Due to stigma against stress and other mental health factors, such problems are not taken seriously. Stress can happen to anyone, anywhere and for that reason I see it is vital we strive toward creating more ways to help people cope and manage stress that is unfortunately, a part of life.  My question to you is what resources do you think should be made available across the country to battle this problem and how do you propose we implement them?