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It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week: “What I Wish I Had Known” About Mental Health

It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week: annually NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, devotes the first week of October to advocate for people facing managing a mental illness every day and to raise public consciousness on the pervasiveness of mental illness in America. This year, NAMI’s key themes address the over-arching message of  “What I wish I had known,” each day looking into: Monday Oct. 3: Stigma Tuesday Oct. 4: Medication [National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding] Wednesday Oct. 5: Therapy Thursday Oct. 6: Disclosing [National Depression Screening Day], and, Friday Oct. 7: Caregiving. To track

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Life Expectancy Falls in the U.S., the Largest 2-Year Decline in 100 Years

Life expectancy at birth in 2021 in the United States fell to 76.1 years, the lowest level since 1996. Men fared much worse than women, with 73,2 years of life expectancy versus 79.1 years for women, the latest research from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics revealed.               In their Provisional Life Expectancy Estimates for 2021, the CDC kicks off a demographically detailed analysis with this simple line chart which graphs the dramatic decline in life expectancy at birth. The overall decline across gender and all race/ethnic groups was 2.7 years: 3.1 years

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The Health of Older Americans in 2022 – Risks from the Pandemic, Isolation, and Social Determinants

For millions of older people in America, health and well-being got worse in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical, mental and behavioral health took hits, depending on one’s living situation, social determinants of health risks, and even health plan, I write in the Medecision Liberate Health blog.                     In this essay on health disparities and equity for older adults, I weave together new data from, The United Health Foundation’s study on seniors’ health status in America’s Health Rankings for 2022 RAND and CMS research into seniors health disparities among Medicare Advantage

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Social Determinants of Health Risks Challenge the Promise of Hospital-to-Home

In the wake of the pandemic and growing consumer preferences, the hospital-to-home movement is gaining traction among health systems. Amidst bullish forecasts for the promise of hospital-to-home discharges, the ability for many patients to make this migration would be a difficult bridge to cross.           On the promising front, recent studies reviewed through a meta-analysis published in JAMA found that hospital-to-home programs can be clinically and cost-effective for inpatients discharged from hospital. Earlier this year, McKinsey addressed how “Care at Home” ecosystems can reshape the way health systems — and people — envision patient care. This

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Mental Health at CES 2022 – The Consumer’s Context for Wellbeing in the New Year

As we enter COVID-19’s “junior year,” one unifying experience shared by most humans are feelings of pandemic fatigue: anxiety, grief, burnout, which together diminish our mental health. There are many signposts pointing to the various flavors of mental and behavioral health challenges, from younger peoples’ greater risk of depression and suicide ideation to increased deaths of despair due to overdose among middle-aged people. And about one-in-three Americans has made a 2022 New Year’s resolution involving some aspect of mental health, the American Psychiatric Association noted approaching the 2021 winter holiday season. Underneath this overall statistic are important differences across various

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Consider Mental Health Equity on World Mental Health Day

COVID-19 exacted a toll on health citizens’ mental health, worsening a public health challenge that was already acute before the pandemic. It’s World Mental Health Day, an event marked by global and local stakeholders across the mental health ecosystem. On the global front, the World Health Organization (WHO) describes the universal phenomenon and burden of mental health on the Earth’s people… Nearly 1 billion people have a mental disorder Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, impacting about 5% of the world’s population People with severe mental disorders like schizophrenia tend to die as much as 20 years earlier

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Clinician Burnout in the Age of COVID

My latest essay for Medecision’s Liberation site digs into the sobering statistics on clinical burnout across the medical professions. From doctors to nurses, physician assistants and other licensed allied health human capital, our health care providers are in a world of hurt. This was initiated with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the public health crisis, Delta variant, and lack of universal precautions adopted by U.S. health citizens have exacerbated an already-challenging scenario for individual clinicians and the organizations with whom they work and collaborate. But there’s an even bigger picture, and that’s the risk clinician burnout in its

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The Stress of the Caregiver: The Most Over-Utilized, Unpaid Stakeholder in U.S. Healthcare

We’ve long know that “the patient” has been an under-utilized resource in the U.S. healthcare system since Dr. Charles Safran testified with that statement to Congress way back in 2004…an era where bipartisanship for health IT was a real thing. Today, with the insights of Alexandra Drane (Founder of ARCHANGELS) and Dr. Nirav Shah (of Stanford University), we know that caregivers are among the most over-utilized resources in the U.S. healthcare system — overused, over-stressed, under-paid, detailed n How Health Systems Can Care for Caregivers, published in the NEJM Catalyst July 2021 issue. In this study, Drane and Shah analyze

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A BA Degree as Prescription for a Longer Life – Update on Deaths of Despair from Deaton and Case

“Without a four-year college diploma, it is increasingly difficult to build a meaningful and successful life in the United States,” according to an essay in PNAS, Life expectancy in adulthood is falling for those without a BA degree, but as educational gaps have widened, racial gaps have narrowed by Anne Case and Angus Deaton. Case and Deaton have done extensive research on the phenomenon of Deaths of Despair, the growing epidemic of mortality among people due to accidents, drug overdoses, and suicide. Case and Deaton wrote the book on Deaths of Despair (detailed here in Health Populi),  Case and Deaton

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Dr. Burnout – The 2021 Medscape Physician Burnout & Suicide Report

Physicians in the U.S. are experiencing “death by 1,000 cuts,” according to the 2021 Medscape Physician Burnout & Suicide Report. Medscape polled 12,339 physicians representing over 29 specialties between late August and early November 2020 to gauge their feelings about work and life in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Medscape researched its first Physician Lifestyle Report in 2012. That research focused on physician “happiness” and work-life satisfaction. In 2013, the issue of burnout was called out on the cover of the report, shown here with the question, “does burnout affect lifestyle?” In 2015, the Physician Lifestyle Report was titled,

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Depression and Anxiety are Toxic Side Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Most psychologists in the U.S. treated more patients in the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic, shifting their practices to telehealth platforms. These therapists got more referrals and saw fewer cancellations, and one-third treated patients who lived in a different state from their practice site, according to Patients with Depression and Anxiety Surge as Psychologists Respond to the Coronavirus Pandemic from the American Psychological Association (APA). For this study, APA polled 1,787 licensed psychologists (both members and non-members in the Association) in the U.S. between late August and early October 2020. This year, APA has published four reports on

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Behavioral Health Side-Effects in the COVID Era

“This surge of people experiencing acute behavioral health problems…has the potential to further impact the healthcare system for years to come,” a report from McKinsey expects looking at the hidden costs of COVID-19’s impact on U.S. health care. The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on Americans’ mental health, with anxiety and depression growing as a side-effect to worries about the virus itself, the long Great Lockdown in much of the country, and the economic recession that has particularly impacted women and people of color. I covered depression impacts due to COVID-19 here in Health Populi yesterday, and wanted to

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The Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 – Trauma- and Stress-Related Disorders in the Pandemic

The CDC calculated that some 200,000 American lives would be lost to the coronavirus pandemic by Labor Day weekend 2020. Beyond the tragic mortality in the U.S. come morbidity impacts hitting mental health in America, hard. And some people are being hit-harder than others, a report from the Centers for Disease Control details. Overall, 4 in 10 people in the U.S. reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom in the last week of June 2020. These symptoms included anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, COVID-19 related trauma- or stress-related disorder (TSRD), substance use (either starting or increasing), and serious

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How COVID-19 Is Driving More Deaths of Despair

In the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all feel like we are living in desperate times. If you are a person at-risk of dying a Death of Despair, you’re even more at-risk of doing so in the wake of the Coronavirus in America. Demonstrating this sad fact of U.S. life, the Well Being Trust and Robert Graham Center published Projected Deaths of Despair from COVID-19. The analysis quantifies the impact of isolation and loneliness combined with the dramatic economic downturn and mass unemployment with the worsening of mental illness and income inequity on the epidemic of Deaths of

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The Coronavirus Impact on American Life, Part 2 – Our Mental Health

As the coronavirus pandemic’s curve of infected Americans ratchets up in the U.S., people are seeking comfort from listening to Dolly Parton’s bedtime stories, crushing on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s science-wrapped-with-empathy, and streaming the Tiger King on Netflix. These and other self-care tactics are taking hold in the U.S. as most people are “social distancing” or sheltering in place, based on numbers from the early April 2020 Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll on the impact of the coronavirus on American life. While the collective practice of #StayHome to #FlattenTheCurve is the best-practice advice from the science leaders at CDC, the NIAID

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The Book on Deaths of Despair – Deaton & Case On Education, Pain, Work and the Future of Capitalism

Anne Case and Angus Deaton were working in a cabin in Montana the summer of 2014. Upon analyzing mortality data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they noticed that death rates were rising among middle-aged white people. “We must have hit a wrong key,” they note in the introduction of their book, Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism. This reversal of life span in America ran counter to a decades-long trend of lower mortality in the U.S., a 20th century accomplishment, Case and Deaton recount. In the 300 pages that follow, the researchers deeply dive into and

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The High Cost-of-Thriving and the Evolving Social Contract for Health Care

Millions of Americans have to work 53 weeks to cover a year’s worth of household expenses. Most Americans haven’t saved much for their retirement. Furthermore, the bullish macroeconomic outlook for the U.S. in early 2020 hasn’t translated into individual American’s optimism for their own family budgets. (Sidebar and caveat: yesterday was the fourth day in a row of the U.S. financial markets losing as much as 10% of market cap, so the global economic outlook is being revised downward by the likes of Goldman Sachs, Vanguard, and Morningstar, among other financial market prognosticators. MarketWatch called this week the worst market

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The Suicide Rate in America Increased by 40% between 2000 and 2017. Blue Collar Workers Were Much More At Risk.

The rate of suicide in the U.S. rose from 12.9 per 100,000 population to 18.0 between 2000 and 2017, a 40% increase. Those workers most at-risk for suiciding were men working in construction and mining, maintenance, arts/design/entertainment/sports/media, farming and fishing, and transportation. For women, working in construction and mining, protective service, transportation, healthcare (support and practice), the arts and entertainment, and personal care put them at higher risk of suicide. The latest report from the CDC on Suicide Rates by Industry and Occupation provides a current analysis of the National Violent Death Reporting System which collects data from 32 states,

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Consumers Seek Benefits From Food, a Personal Social Determinant of Health

As consumers in the U.S. wrestle with accessing and paying for medical benefits, there’s another sort of health benefit people increasingly understand, embrace, and consume: food-as-medicine. More people are taking on the role of health consumers as they spend more out-of-pocket on medical care and insurance, and seeking food to bolster their health is part of this behavior change. One in four Americans seek health benefits from food, those who don’t still seek the opportunity to use food for weight loss goals, heart health and energy boosting, according to the 2019 Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information

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Physicians in America – Too Many Burned Out, Depressed, and Not Getting Support

Some one in three physicians is burned out, according to the Medscape’s National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report. The subtitle, “The Generational Divide,” tells a bit part of the subtext of this annual report that’s always jarring and impactful for both its raw numbers and implications for both patient care and the larger health care system in America. Nearly 1 in 2 physicians in Generation X, those people born between 1965 and 1979, feel burned out compared with roughly 4 in 10 doctors who are Millennials or Boomers. Furthermore, many more women than men physicians feel burned out: 48% of

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The 2020 Social Determinants of Health: Connectivity, Art, Air and Love

Across the U.S., the health/care ecosystem warmly embraced social determinants of health as a concept in 2019. A few of the mainstreaming-of-SDoH signposts in 2019 were: Cigna studying and focusing in on loneliness as a health and wellness risk factor Humana’s Bold Goal initiative targeting Medicare Advantage enrollees CVS building out an SDOH platform, collaborating with Unite US for the effort UPMC launching a social impact program focusing on SDoH, among other projects investing in social factors that bolster public health. As I pointed out in my 2020 Health Populi trendcast, the private sector is taking on more public health

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There Is No Health Without Mental Health – Today Is World Mental Health Day

There is no health without mental health. Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide. So #LetsTalk (the Twitter hashtag to share stories and research and support on the social feed). Today is October 10th, World Mental Health Day. As we go about our lives today and truly every day, we should be mindful that mental health is all about each of us individually, and all of us in our communities and in the world. First, let’s hear from Prince Harry and Ed Sheeran (who, video spoiler alert, decides to pivot his lyrics to a draft song titled “Gingers

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