Is there a mental health crisis at Florida’s state universities?

State universities are overrun with students seeking mental health counseling, unable to meet the growing demand.

As a result, according to a Tampa Bay Times story, students struggling with depression or other mental illness must wait for weeks, even a month, before being seen.

Ten of Florida’s 12 state universities fail to meet recommended staffing levels for counselors, the newspaper reported. Student counseling clients have jumped nearly 50 percent in a six-year period.

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State universities are overrun with students seeking mental health counseling, unable to meet the growing demand.

Ten of Florida’s 12 state universities fail to meet recommended staffing levels for counselors.

In Florida, over a six-year period, student counseling clients have jumped nearly 50 percent.

The Florida Legislature rejected a request to provide more mental health money for universities. This year the state university system is asking for $14.5 million to hire 137 new staffers for counseling centers.

University of South Florida psychology professor Jonathan Rottenberg told the newspaper that if nothing is done “we’re going to have something of a lost generation.”

“We know that the number of counselors we need per student is way off at every university,” Norman Tripp, a member of the state’s higher education board and a leader of the charge told the Times.

“We know for a fact that students who need immediate service are told that they have to come back three or four weeks later. We know that when they should be providing a one-hour service, they’re getting a half hour.”

The college years are notorious for mental health issues as students for the first time face a new environment and academic and social stress. Mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, can emerge for the first time during the college years.

Some experts worry that without a serious commitment to collegiate mental health, many students will face serious long-term harm.

“If we do nothing,” said USF psychology professor Jonathan Rottenberg, “we’re going to have something of a lost generation.”

The Times reported that potential new mental health counselors could be on their way. Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton could get potentially 13 new staffers.

To read the whole Tampa Bay Times story click here. 

Study: Red states could lose big in Trump’s repeal of Obamacare

New President Donald Trump has made repealing the Affordable Care Act a top priority.

But a study out of Harvard finds that such a repeal could hurt some of his most ardent supporters in red states. The study focuses on Southern red states who have expanded Medicaid as part of Obamacare. Rolling this portion of the ACA back could have dire consequences for states like Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana.

States that have not expanded Medicaid for ideological reasons — such as Florida and Texas — may be less affected, the study from Harvard’s Department of Health Policy and Management. The survey of Texas found that Obamacare had a negative impact, for instance.

“The economics of rolling back Medicaid expansion strongly suggest that doing so would harm patients, hospitals, and state budgets,” stated an article in the New England Journal of Medicine published this week. 

Researchers Benjamin Sommers and Arnold M. Epstein have been doing telephone surveys for four years of low-income adults in Southern states to gauge the effectiveness of Obamacare.

“Our survey provides insight into the current views of many adults living in red states, and the verdict is clear: in states that have embraced coverage expansion despite their political leanings, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion has made a positive difference that is recognizable to the people whose lives have been most directly affected by it,” their article stated.

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Though 19 states declined to expand Medicaid under the ACA, 13 states won by Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election have opted for expansion since 2014. West Virginia and Kentucky have experienced among the largest proportional increases in Medicaid enrollment in the country.

The researchers said that the question is not whether many Americans — even those in thoroughly red states — have benefited from the ACA, but whether that will be enough to save it.

Study: Red states could lose big in Trump’s repeal of Obamacare

New President Donald Trump has made repealing the Affordable Care Act a top priority.

But a study out of Harvard finds that such a repeal could hurt some of his most ardent supporters in red states. The study focuses on Southern red states who have expanded Medicaid as part of Obamacare. Rolling this portion of the ACA back could have dire consequences for states like Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana.

States that have not expanded Medicaid for ideological reasons — such as Florida and Texas — may be less affected, the study from Harvard’s Department of Health Policy and Management. The survey of Texas found that Obamacare had a negative impact, for instance.

“The economics of rolling back Medicaid expansion strongly suggest that doing so would harm patients, hospitals, and state budgets,” stated an article in the New England Journal of Medicine published this week. 

Researchers Benjamin Sommers and Arnold M. Epstein have been doing telephone surveys for four years of low-income adults in Southern states to gauge the effectiveness of Obamacare.

“Our survey provides insight into the current views of many adults living in red states, and the verdict is clear: in states that have embraced coverage expansion despite their political leanings, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion has made a positive difference that is recognizable to the people whose lives have been most directly affected by it,” their article stated.

nejmp1700156_f1

 

Though 19 states declined to expand Medicaid under the ACA, 13 states won by Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election have opted for expansion since 2014. West Virginia and Kentucky have experienced among the largest proportional increases in Medicaid enrollment in the country.

The researchers said that the question is not whether many Americans — even those in thoroughly red states — have benefited from the ACA, but whether that will be enough to save it.

Racial gap found in cervical cancer deaths

A new study says the death rate from Cervical cancer is significantly higher among U.S. blacks than for white women

The medical journal Cancer on Monday published the finding that the rate black American women are dying from the disease is akin to that of women in many poor developing nations.

 

cervical-cancer
Cervical cancer cells. (Courtesy Creative Commons)

Experts say what is especially disturbing is that cervical cancer is largely preventable through screenings.

“This shows that our disparities are even worse than we feared,” said Dr. Kathleen M. Schmeler, an associate professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

“We have screenings that are great, but many women in America are not getting them.”

Schmeler, speaking to the New York Times, said President  Donald Trump’s  plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act could make matters worse because it covers screening and may result in the closing of family planning clinics, which performs the test.

The mortality rate for black women was 10.1 per 100,000. For white women, it is 4.7 per 100,000, according to the study.

Some doctors said the disparity could reflect unequal access to screening and insurance coverage.

Cervical cancer is caused, in most cases, by the virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV. It can be transmitted through sexual contact. There is a vaccine for women 26 years and younger.

 

 

Flu season is here in Florida, taking two lives already

The flu season in Florida has arrived.

Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Health confirmed a 7-year-old and a 17-year-old died from influenza-associated complication.flu-shot

“We are beginning to see an increase in flu activity in our county. Now is a good time to remind all that a flu shot is an excellent preventive measure,” said Dr. Alina Alonso, Director, Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County.

Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. Celeste Philip said most people view the flu as a minimal threat, but Floridians should take flu infection seriously.

Besides a flu shot, the Department of Health says it also essential to practice good hygiene by properly and frequently washing your hands to help prevent the spread of seasonal flu.

“Make it a habit to clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces in your home, school or office. You can take additional steps to ward off the flu by coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow and avoiding touching your face,” the Health Department reminds.

School board member’s hoverboard fall only latest

School Board member Erica Whitfield is certainly not the first person to fall off a hoverboard, but she can count herself among the lucky she and her doctors agree.

She broke her back, shattering a vertabra just below her neck, yet she didn’t damage her spinal cord. Surgeons have used cement to stabilize the bone, and, while she is under orders to sit still for now, she’s not paralyzed and is expected to be walking around within weeks.

Hoverboards have been a hot safety topic for about two years – literally hot. 

In December 2015, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced it was investigating what was causing some hoverboards to catch fire.

But gravity was also a concern. Reports of falls spiked at Christmas.

“While the fire hazard has generated significant attention, I do not want to downplay the fall hazard. CPSC has received dozens of reports of injuries from hospital ERs … Some of these injuries have been serious, including concussions, fractures, contusions/abrasions, and internal organ injuries. Always wear a helmet and padding while using this product,” CPSC’s Chairman Elliot F. Kaye said in a statement at the time.

Just three days after Christmas that year, the commission had noted 70 ER visits due to hoverboards and was  still counting.

Dr. Jaime Marchand, an emergency room physician at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, says he hasn’t seen many hoverboard falls – yet.

“I’m sure like the Wheelies (sneakers with retractable wheels), as they progress in popularity, we’ll see the number of falls rise,” Marchand said.

The famous fall too.

A quick check of YouTube seems to confirm Marchand’s forecast.

The “fallen” have included South Florida congressman Carlos Curbelo who fell from his nephew’s hoverboard.

2015 tweet from the congressman.
2015 tweet from the congressman.

CNN at the time also reported:

Athletic skill doesn’t guarantee safety. Baseball player Dan Uggla fell off a hoverboard while listening to Justin Bieber. His wife posted a video of the minor spill on Instagram.

BBC North America editor Jon Sopel tweeted that his son Max hurt his wrist on a hoverboard and ended up in a hospital. Twitter user Syl said her father fell off a hoverboard and went to the hospital.

Jordan Anthony fell after mixing last year’s dangerous tech habit, extreme selfies, with a hoverboard.

Banned in some places… including the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room

Not only are those riding hoverboards at risk, so is anyone standing nearby.

“As a result, some jurisdictions have enacted laws to preclude their use.  As of July 2016, hover boards are illegal or banned on New York City sidewalks, British streets and many airports, airlines, shopping malls, and in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room,” according to the folks at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, who promptly sent me a long email that covered the definition of a hover board to the various brands that make them to their range of speeds and prices.

 

Wear the helmet and pads

Marchand advises people of all ages to wear helmet and pads on hoverboards, skates and bikes. And even then, know that injuries can happen.

Such equipment wouldn’t have shielded Whitfield’s back, she said. She said her biggest mistake, other than stepping on the board, was moving after she fell.

She didn’t realize the extent of her injury, and Marchand says, she could’ve made it worse, jostling broken bones so close to her spinal cord.

“She’s very lucky,” Marchand said. ” The higher the injury, the more devastating it can be.”

Perhaps this guy has the right idea – or not.