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Democracy and Your Health

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Recent research from The Lancet has demonstrated that democratic governments have a positive impact on health. Democratic countries had a higher life expectancy in a sample of residents that were HIV free, compared to autocracies, and these countries had lower rates of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and stroke. 

To ascertain if democratic countries had better health outcomes for citizens, researchers calculated the “democratic experience” for each country. This means that democratic countries must have free and fair elections. Factors such as GDP and urban development were some of the variables that were controlled for since they did not wholly constitute the “democratic experience.” The study found out that democratic experience played a significant role in reducing death rates, CVD, cancer, tuberculosis, and other non-communicable diseases

While public health improvements have occurred in non-democratic areas, these were possible mainly because of aid programs that have targeted diseases, including the plague. Lower-income countries are making headway on their health-related technology. Interventions such as antimalarial beds have worked. However, with time, these countries will need to advance their healthcare systems to combat more prevalent diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Also, non-communicable diseases are least targeted for aid, leading to 58% of deaths and disabilities in low-income countries. 

With healthcare policy challenges on the rise, the research does not guarantee that living in a democratic government will improve health outcomes. There are undoubtedly many issues that the healthcare system faces; however, increased insight from research studies like this can help us stay informed to make more educated decisions. 

To learn more, please visit https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/07/04/738477296/good-news-about-democracy-its-good-for-your-health 

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States That are Working to Improve Mental Health For Students

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Students across the United States are increasingly facing mental health issues in this day and age. Here are a couple of states that have taken steps to improve mental health for the student population. 

Oregon: In July 2019, Governor Kate Brown approved mental health days for students, meaning that schools will excuse student absences that relate to mental and behavioral health. Students who petitioned the bill intend to remove the stigma around mental health, especially in Oregon, where suicide rates are disproportionately high. In fact, suicide was found to be the second leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds. 

Florida: The Florida State Board of Education will require public-school students in sixth grade and above to learn more about health through a minimum of five hours of mental health education yearly. The educational curriculum includes information regarding how to seek help from others, address peers that have mental health disorders, and interpret signs and symptoms. 

What would you like to see in schools to address the mental health crisis?

Sources: 

  1. https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/18/us/florida-to-require-mental-health-education-trnd/index.html
  2. https://www.today.com/health/oregon-passes-law-letting-students-take-mental-health-days-t159385
  3. https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/22/us/oregon-schools-mental-health-days-trnd/index.html

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Fast Facts About the US Vaping Epidemic

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The vaping epidemic has recently gained traction after multiple deaths due to vaping-related lung illnesses. Six people have been reported dead in states including Kansas, Illinois, Oregon, Minnesota, Indiana, and California. In total, there are 450 cases of lung illness related to vaping. As the concern surrounding e-cigarettes increases, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have taken steps to further analyze and understand this outbreak. Here are some fast facts about what is happening to address the nationwide consequences of vaping: 

What are the results of the current vaping-related investigations? 

  • The CDC has not been able to attribute a specific cause that links the cases. Officials have also not been able to establish a statistical correlation between vaping and lung-illnesses
  • The New York Health Department has reported increasingly high levels of chemical Vitamin E acetate in cannabis vaping products. This chemical has been linked to at least one illness and is present in many of the “candy-flavored” vapes. 

What is the message from the health departments regarding the use of e-cigarettes and vape pens? 

What are the next steps for the FDA in response to this epidemic?

  • The FDA plans to invest in educational campaigns targeting the youth. The messages surrounding the dangers of vaping will be communicated through television, posters, and digital media. 
  • In collaboration with the current administration, the FDA has put forth a policy that will be finalized in the next couple of weeks. The FDA will attempt to enforce requirements for non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes to eliminate non-compliant products from the market. 

While the health-related challenges from vaping are pervasive, government agencies and officials are developing policies that will mitigate the effects of this crisis. 

Sources: 

  1. https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/10/health/vaping-outbreak-2019-explainer/index.html
  2. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2019/09/06/3-vaping-related-deaths-confirmed-another-under-investigation/2231286001/

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The Opioid Crisis and the American Workplace

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When someone is suffering from addiction, their first instinct is to hide it. Addiction should be treated as the medical issue that it is, but unfortunately it is often treated as a criminal matter best suited to punishment. This causes unintended problems in the workplace, where people who may have developed an addiction to opioid pain medications in particular find that it’s easier to perpetuate their addictions than to seek help. It’s easier to get opioids, after all, than it is to keep your job so you can keep your health insurance so you can pay for addiction treatment that you have to take time off to receive. What if there were a better way?

Making it part of your normal HR training to ensure that anyone dealing with the medical problem of addiction has a path not only to recovery but also back into the workplace is the best way to treat addiction in the workplace. Outline processes and expectations for recovery so that people know they won’t be losing a job and potentially ending up homeless because of a medical condition. Ensure there’s a path back to their job that includes mentoring to help keep them on the right path.

Learn more about fighting opioid addictions in the workplace from the infographic below.

Infographic by US Drug Test Centers

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