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Why your health should always be on your agenda

It’s not possible to prevent every health problem going, but it is wise to put your health first, no matter your age.



If you’re young and full of life, it’s easy to assume that you’re in good health. The trouble is that symptoms of some conditions develop very slowly and some are virtually impossible to spot. There’s also the risk of your health status changing very quickly and unexpectedly. Of course, it’s not possible to prevent every health problem going, but it is wise to put your health first, no matter your age.

Here are some easy ways you can make sure that your health and wellbeing are firmly on the agenda.

Get moving

Most of us start a brand new year with intentions to get fit, but if you’re one of those people who tends to throw in the towel after a couple of weeks, it’s time to review your stance on regular exercise. Some of us focus on exercise as a means of losing weight, but there are so many more benefits to enjoy from living an active lifestyle. Exercise is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, it lowers the risk of depression, and it provides a natural high due to the release of endorphins. Working out on a regular basis also enables you to increase your fitness, stamina and strength, and you can also benefit from better immunity.

The gym isn’t for everyone, but you don’t have to become a fan of wearing lycra and lifting weights to get in shape. You can go for a walk every day, you can cycle, swim, jog or play team sports, you could work out at home, or you could do classes like yoga, spinning, Pilates, acrobatics or Zumba. Find classes that are fun, and try and vary your sessions to maintain interest and motivation. Ideally, you should aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

Get enough sleep

Do you plod through the day dreaming of getting into bed because late or sleepless nights have become the norm? It is estimated that 1 in 10 people suffer from chronic insomnia, and up to 50 percent of adults experience sleep troubles on a short-term basis. A single sleepless night probably won’t cause great harm, but a long-term lack of sleep can be incredibly damaging to your mental and physical health. As well as affecting your energy levels and your mood, sleep loss can result in lower immunity and increased susceptibility to illness, an elevated risk of anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, strokes and heart disease. If you try and survive on little or no sleep, you’ll also be more prone to accidents, which could have disastrous consequences.

If you find it difficult to sleep, the first thing to do is take a look at your daily routine. Avoid caffeine after 5pm, put yourself to bed and get up at the same time each day, and take time to relax and unwind before you try and nod off. Exercise is also proven to aid sleep. If increasing activity levels and adjusting your routine don’t help, seek help from your doctor.

Don’t be afraid of the doctor

Many of us are reticent to seek advice, even when we don’t feel well, or we suspect that something isn’t quite right. Research shows that men are particularly reluctant to arrange medical appointments. If you shy away from seeing doctors and dentists on a regular basis, there’s a risk that potential warning signs could be missed. General examinations, routine checks and quick, painless tests can lower the risk of complications and even save lives.

Check in with your dentist every 6-9 months, have your blood pressure and BMI checked frequently, and organize regular sexual health tests if you have more than one sexual partner. It’s also a good idea to book an annual eye test and to see your doctor if you notice any changes in your health, such as weight loss, changes in your bowel habits or unexplained pain or tiredness.

Keep an eye on your alcohol intake

Many of us enjoy a drink, and there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a bottle of beer or a Cosmopolitan on a Friday night. The worry is that it’s very easy to exceed the recommended intake of alcohol without even realizing. In the UK, for example, the recommended maximum weekly intake is 14 units. This equates to 14 small glasses of wine or single measures of spirits.

If you’re drinking every day or you’re going all out on the weekend, you may be drinking too much. To reduce your intake, try and switch up your social calendar and arrange outings and activities that don’t involve drinking, alternate alcoholic drinks with water or soft drinks and use a diary or an app to track your consumption.

Watch what you eat

There’s a huge amount of content related to diet in the media. If you feel like rolling your eyes when you see yet another photo of avocados on toast on Instagram, you might think that healthy eating isn’t for you. The truth is that eating well doesn’t have to involve exotic fruits, surviving on juices or making ornate flowers out of raw vegetables. You don’t have to spend hours preparing meals or track down tropical ingredients at independent stores miles away from home to improve your diet. Just focus on getting the basics right.

Keep an eye on how much sugar, saturated fat and salt you eat, aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables per day and try and buy lean meat, poultry and fish. Your diet should be balanced, so resist the lure of fad diets that encourage you to cut out an entire food group.

If you’re young and fit, you may not really give your health much thought. Youth can make us feel invincible, but the truth is that it’s never too early to start looking after yourself. Nobody knows what the future holds. You don’t have to overhaul your entire lifestyle, follow crazy diets or live in the gym, but making your health a priority is always a good idea. Try to be more active, eat well, get enough rest, drink in moderation and keep up to date with regular checks and routine examinations.

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Health & Wellness

LGBQ adolescents at substantially greater risk for substance use, according to study

Almost 72% of LGBQ teens had tried alcohol in their lifetimes, as had 63% of heterosexual youth. With cigarettes, 47% of LGBQ youth said they had smoked at least once, as did 31% of heterosexual teens.



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Lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning teens are at least twice as likely than their heterosexual peers to use illegal drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and methamphetamines. This is according to a US study, “Substance Use Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning Adolescents in the United States, 2015” by Theodore L. Caputi, Laramie R. Smith, Steffanie A. Strathdee and John W. Ayers; and published in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) this August.

This ought not to come as a surprise, with earlier researches suggesting that various stressors related to being closeted or coming out, and being rejected by family or friends could contribute to an increased risk of substance use among sexual minority teens.

For this study, the researchers looked at data from 14,703 high school students who were surveyed about their lifetime and prior-month use of 15 different substances, including illegal drugs, as well as tobacco, alcohol and prescription drugs that weren’t given to them by a physician.

Sadly, LGBQ teens were 12% more likely than other teens to report any substance use in their lifetimes and 27% more likely to report substance use in the previous month.

Other findings included:

  • LGBQ youth were more than three times more likely to try heroin or methamphetamines at least once, and more than twice as likely to try ecstasy or cocaine.
  • The vast majority of teens didn’t use illegal drugs, regardless of sexual orientation.
    For example, “only” 6.6% of LBGQ teens had used heroin in their lifetimes, compared with 1.3% of heterosexual youth. Also, 8.6% of LGBQ adolescents had used methamphetamines compared with 2.1% of other teens.
  • Marijuana was more commonly used at some point by half of LGBQ youth and almost 38% of other teens.
  • Teen drinking and smoking were more common. Almost 72% of LGBQ teens had tried alcohol in their lifetimes, as had 63% of heterosexual youth. With cigarettes, 47% of LGBQ youth said they had smoked at least once, as did 31% of heterosexual teens.
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Interviewed by Reuters Health, one of the study’s authors, John Ayers, was quoted as saying that stressors faced by LGBQ teens, such as stigma and isolation, “may make drugs foolishly appear attractive as a coping mechanism.”

Ayers quipped that “even experimentation with these harder drugs can derail a teen’s future.”

It is worth noting that the study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or sexual orientation might directly influence substance use or impact how much teens smoked, drank or did drugs.

All the same, the researchers of this study stressed that “policymakers should invest in prevention and early intervention resources to address substance use risks among LGBQ adolescents.”

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Health & Wellness

Gender-affirming hormone therapy impacts results of lab tests for trans patients

The fact that many medical protocols do not account for sex/gender incongruence is a significant barrier for transgender individuals seeking healthcare.



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Gender-affirming hormone therapy markedly impacts the results of common laboratory tests for transgender patients. This is according to a study that underscores the need for transgender-specific reference intervals to ensure this underserved population receives accurate diagnoses and effective treatments.

The fact that many medical protocols do not account for sex/gender incongruence is a significant barrier for transgender individuals seeking healthcare. In particular, for the nearly 50% of transgender individuals on hormone therapy, the medical field has yet to define reference intervals, which are the ranges of test result values observed in a healthy population that are used to determine whether individual lab results are normal or concerning.

Without tailored reference intervals, test results for transgender patients on hormone therapy could indicate an underlying condition but go unrecognized if they are considered normal for cisgender individuals (those whose gender matches their assigned-at-birth sex). Conversely, if lab results for transgender patients fall outside of cisgender reference intervals, they could trigger unnecessary follow-up work even if the results are actually normal.

To help build the case for developing transgender reference intervals, a research team led by Jeff SoRelle, MD, of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, investigated whether transgender patients on hormone therapy exhibit altered results for laboratory tests ordered during yearly check-ups. The study authors recorded lab values for a complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic panel, and lipid tests in 264 healthy transgender patients undergoing hormone therapy in transgender clinics from 2007 to 2017. Of these patients, 133 were taking estradiol to transition from male to female, and 89 were taking testosterone to transition from female to male. The scientists also gathered lab results for 149 transgender patients not undergoing hormone therapy to serve as a point of comparison.

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From this, the researchers determined that both transgender women and men taking hormones displayed altered values for measures of red blood cell, kidney, and liver health. Transgender women taking hormones also had altered sodium, calcium, total protein, glucose, and platelet levels, while transgender men taking hormones displayed altered lipid values. Interpretation of these altered test results in the context of cisgender reference intervals could have serious consequences, from preventing diagnosis of anemia or kidney disease to affecting assessment of cardiovascular disease risk.

“Transgender patients will need their own reference ranges for several important parameters such as hemoglobin and creatinine,” said SoRelle. “It will also be important to determine whether proteins from cardiac muscle or the prostate, such as troponins or prostate specific antigen, are altered, too, which could affect diagnosis of heart attacks and prostate cancer.”

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Health & Wellness

Ban needed on ‘torturous’ electroconvulsive therapy

Electroshock’s brutal and sordid history ranges from its use to help slaughter pigs, to punishment, painful “aversion therapy” on homosexuals, inflicting brain damage on children and others, and to torture humans.



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Mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) International announced that a ban of electroshock treatment — the practice of up to 460 volts of electricity to the brain to “treat mental disorder” — should be imminent in light of increasing reports of patients being damaged and deaths.

In Texas in the US, the only state to record deaths within 14 days of electroshock being administered, reported a death rate in recent years that represents an estimated 300 deaths nationally each year. The most frequent causes of death have been cardiac events and suicide, according to one study [1].

Electroshock’s brutal and sordid history ranges from its use to help slaughter pigs, to punishment, painful “aversion therapy” on homosexuals, inflicting brain damage on children and others, and to torture humans.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never obtained a single clinical trial from the manufacturers of the electroshock devices proving their safety and efficacy. Under Section 516 of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, the FDA has a duty to ban devices that present “substantial deception or unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury.” Electroshock, also called electroconvulsive therapy or ECT, can cause brain damage, long-term memory loss and death, constituting more than a “substantial risk” and is far from safe and effective, according to thousands of survivors’ complaints.[2] Ignoring these dangers, the FDA has instead limited bans under this Section to prohibiting the use of powdered gloves in medical or surgical procedures and prosthetic hair fiber implants that may trigger inflammation and hypersensitivity reactions, the latter, the FDA says, were misrepresented in marketing as “safe, effective and causing little or no discomfort.”

While the FDA allows the ECT device to remain on the market, it doesn’t regulate how it is used, giving psychiatrists a free-for-all to administer it to whomever they choose. This has meant that children younger than five and toddlers have been subjected to the violence of this shock procedure in at least five states that CCHR has established through Freedom of Information Act requests. Despite a report from the United Nations committee on Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment that warns electroshock without consent constitutes torture, ECT continues to be given to involuntary patients without consent.[3]

Pregnant women and their unborn babies are also not protected from ECT, despite the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiology saying that ECT is “absolutely contraindicated” in pregnancy.[4] Researchers of Maine Medical Center have found brain damage in a baby whose mother had undergone ECT while pregnant.[5] The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine also warns of potential spontaneous abortion, placental abruption, cardiac arrhythmias, fetal burn and intrauterine fetal death when a pregnant woman experiences general electrical shock.[6] Yet, the APA claims that it’s safe during all trimesters.[7]

Jan Eastgate, president of CCHR International, said: “Electroshock is mental euthanasia, with a long history of being used for torture and abuse. Electric shock eradicates memory. It should never be condoned or permitted because quite apart from its inhuman aspects, patients consider it bluntly criminal, especially when forced on them. Psychiatrists and the FDA pass off electric shock machines as wonderful, even though they can kill patients.” Sign CCHR’s Petition to Ban the Electroshock (ECT) Device.

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The impact of any electrical shock upon a body for any purpose is very dangerous. Researchers from the University of Montreal have shown that any electric shock above 120 volts can “cause neurologic and neuropsychological symptoms in humans. Following an electrical injury, some patients may show various emotional and behavioral aftereffects, such as memory loss and symptoms of depression.”[8] ECT uses up to 460 volts, deliberately inducing a grand mal seizure that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) says can last up to 30 minutes.

ECT: Slaughters Pigs and Tortures

ECT was invented in fascist Italy in 1937 by psychiatrist Ugo CerlettiDarius Rejali, author of Torture and Modernity, wrote of Cerletti “having killed a few dogs by experimentation” and then “discovered that Roman slaughterhouses used electrocution to slaughter pigs.” Cerletti “discovered that pigs could be shocked several times and would revive after a few minutes.” He then applied ECT to humans, his first victim screaming that it was “deadly.” “The torture and ‘treatments’ of the insane” historically has derived from the “application to animals in abattoirs,” Rejali stated.[9]

Cerletti’s device very rapidly pressed into political service, Rejali said. In August 2017, a paper published in History of Psychiatry documented how “The Nazi political and medical establishment” regarded ECT as a means “to empty psychiatric institutions, thereby relieving the state of the burden…” Psychiatrist Emil Gelny “added four extra electrodes to existing ECT machines, which were attached to patients’ wrists and ankles to deliver the lethal shocks after patients were knocked unconscious by the initial current applied to the head.”[10]

In the 1950s, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) expressed considerable interest in ECT devices. In 1951, Project Artichoke, then MK-ULTRA under Deputy CIA Director Richard Helms in 1953, aimed to control human behavior through hallucinogenic drugs and electroshock.[11] Dr. Ewen Cameron, the first president of the World Psychiatric Association, while professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Canada in the 1950s and 60s, developed his own version of shock treatment, using the UK Page-Russell electroshock device invented in 1948. Cameron called his shock technique “de-patterning” deliberately wiping out patient memories by the use of intensive ECT. The CIA funded his work.[12] He described the procedure on a patient to the 2nd World Congress of Psychiatry in 1957, stating: “There is complete amnesia for all events of his life.”[13]

Electroshock ‘took away her soul’

In 2017, 60 years after Cameron’s experiments left her mother damaged for life, Alison Steel obtained a $100,000settlement from the Canadian government over Cameron’s experiments. “She was never able to really function as a healthy human being because of what they did to her,” Steel stated. “Her emotions were stripped. It took away her soul.”[14]

Electroshock is also used for torture, including on prisoners of the French during the 1954-62 Algerian War.[15] Journalist Gordon Thomas reported that in 1961, Moroccan king Hassan II’s security service was fully staffed with doctors who supervised a wide range of tortures of political detainees using several Page-Russell electroshock machines.[16] Chinese dissidents and members of the religious group The Falun Gong are still subjected to electroshock and “other barbaric forms of torture designed by prison guards to humiliate and inflict maximum pain.”[17]

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Until 1973, when the APA de-classified homosexuality as a mental disorder, electroshock treatment was used in an effort to prevent or eliminate homosexual behavior.[18] Other forms of shock included jolts of electricity administered to the skin and body, sometimes directly to the genitals.[19] Voltage of such devices ranged anywhere from 150-200 volts and on children for behavioral control, 300-400 volts.[20] Allegations that psychiatrists and any others recommending ECT to treat the LGBT community today are homophobic and cruel, CCHR says.[21]

Brain Damage and Memory Loss

Yet the FDA and APA continue to ignore the perils of ECT.

  • In March 2016, a coroner from Sunderland County in the UK determined Elsie Tindle died after electroshock triggered an epileptic fit which caused irreparable brain damage.[22]
  • A 2012 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported a considerable “decrease in functional connectivity” between the prefrontal lobes of the brain and other parts of the brain after ECT. The most extensive long-term follow-up study indicates that “most ECT patients will never recover from the damage in the form of persistent severe mental deficits.”[23]
  • Austin, Texas, psychologist John Breeding, who heads the Coalition for the Abolition of Electroshock, said, “The bottom line is that ECT ‘works’ to the extent that it damages and disables the brain.”[24] Breeding dispels psychiatric theories that the procedure is safer today than its “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” days in the 60s. He says that ECT has more potential for harm than ever. Much higher voltages are employed in the modern procedure because muscle relaxants and anesthetics raise the seizure threshold, with more electricity required to produce a seizure. The greater heat and electricity themselves cause more brain cell death, he says. He concludes “Given what we know about the resulting brain damage, I think this is a form of assault…”[25]
  • Leading ECT researcher and advocate, psychologist Harold Sackeim admitted in an editorial in The Journal of ECT that “virtually all patients experience some degree of persistent and, likely, permanent retrograde amnesia.”[26] In a January 2007 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, Sackeim and colleagues acknowledged that ECT may cause permanent amnesia and permanent deficits in cognitive abilities, which affect ability to function.[27]
  • In 2005, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Denise de Bellefeuille ruled that a psychiatrist and Santa Barbarapsychiatric facility deceived its patients by failing to tell them that ECT causes irreversible memory loss. The psychiatrist (who had performed shock treatment for over 20 years), admitted that neither he nor anyone else understands how shock treatment works, and that the consent form Johnson provided to patients was “decidedly misleading in a critical regard,” concerning the permanency of memory loss.[28]

Last year, psychologist John Read, professor of clinical psychology at the University of East London concluded from a comprehensive review of 91 studies on ECT that “Given the well-documented high risk of persistent memory dysfunction, the cost-benefit analysis for ECT remains so poor that its use cannot be scientifically, or ethically, justified.”[29]

Eastgate says, “To treat mental problems by electric shocks is brutality in the name of mental health care. The high death rate, severe memory loss and the brain atrophy and damage ECT causes warrants it being banned under existing FDA law.”

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[1] “An Analysis of Reported Deaths Following Electroconvulsive Therapy in Texas, 1993-1998,” 1 Aug 2001

[2] Jonathan Emord & Associates, Citizens Petition filed with the FDA Commissioner, 14 Aug. 2016, pp. 14, 27 and 42,

[3] A/HRC/22/53, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez,” United Nations, General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Twenty-second Session, Agenda Item 3, 1 Feb. 2013, p. 1, Summary.


[5], citing Jacquelyn BlackstoneMichael G. PinetteCamille SantarpioJoseph R. Wax, “Electroconvulsive Therapy in Pregnancy.” Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2007, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,

[6] “Electric shock in pregnancy: a review,” The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, Vol. 29, 2014, Issue 2,


[8] of Montreal. “Electric Shocks Can Cause Neurologic And Neuropsychological Symptoms.” ScienceDaily16 May 2008

[9] Darius Rejali, “Electricity: The Global History Of A Torture Technology,” Skrabanek, PhD., “Convulsive Therapy – A Critical Appraisal of its Origins and Value,” Irish f’.’lcdicaIJourIlo,, June 1986, Volume 79, No. 6.

[10]; G Gazdag, GS Ungvari, and H Czech, “Mass killing under the guise of ECT: the darkest chapter in the history of biological psychiatry,” History of Psychiatry, Sage Publications, 2017.

[11] Stephen Lendman, “Meet Maryam Ruhullah: A Victim of MK-ULTRA,” Countercurrents.org16 Feb. 2010

[12] Leonard Roy Frank, “Electroshock: Death, Brain Damage, Memory Loss, and Brainwashing,” The Journal of Mind and Behaviour, Summer and Autumn 1990; Leonard Roy Frank, Editor, “The Electroshock Quotationary,” June 2006

[13] Op. cit.Leonard Roy Frank, “The Electroshock Quotationary.”


[15] Leonard Roy Frank, Editor, The History of Shock Treatment, 1978.

[16] Gordon ThomasJourney Into Madness, The True Story of Secret CIA Mind Control and Medical Abuse, (Bantam Books) 1989.


[18] Patrick Strudwick, “This Gay Man Was Given Repeated Electric Shocks By British Doctors to Make Him Straight,” Buzz Feed30 Sept 2017



[21] Emily Reynolds, “The cruel, dangerous reality of gay conversion therapy,” Wired7 July 2018

[22] Petra Silfverskiold, “Electric shock therapy led to Sunderland patient having permanent fit,” Daily Mail (UK), 10 Mar. 2016

[23] Peter Breggin, “New Study Confirms Electroshock (ECT) Causes Brain Damage,” Huffington Post, 9 Apr. 2012

[24] John Breeding, Ph.D., “Electroshocking Children: Why It Should Be Stopped,” Mad in America11 Feb. 2014

[25] Op. cit.John Breeding, Ph.D., “Electroshocking Children: Why It Should Be Stopped”; John Breeding, Ph.D., “Chapter 9: Electroshock,”

[26] IbidJohn Breeding, Ph.D., “Electroshocking Children: Why It Should Be Stopped.”

[27] Ibid., citing, Sackeim et al., “The Cognitive Effects of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Community Settings” Neuropsychopharmacology, Volume 32, Number 1, 2007.

[28] Charles D. Morgan, “Milestone case: Hospital ordered to cease shocking patients,”

[29] John ReadChelsea Arnold, “Is Electroconvulsive Therapy for Depression More Effective Than Placebo? A Systematic Review of Studies Since 2009,” Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry Volume 19, Number 1, 2017, pp. 5-23(19),

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Health & Wellness

Only 25% of trans youth feel care providers are helpful about their sexual health issues

Only 25% of transgender youth feel that their primary care providers (PCPs) are helpful about the sexual health issues of gender and sexual minorities (GSMs).



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Only 25% of transgender youth feel that their primary care providers (PCPs) are helpful about the sexual health issues of gender and sexual minorities (GSMs). This is according to a study that explored trans youth’s perceptions regarding encounters with PCPs related to GSM identity and sexual health.

In “Perceived Barriers to HIV Prevention Services for Transgender Youth” – written by Celia B. Fisher, Adam L. Fried, Margaret Desmond, Kathryn Macapagal and Brian Mustanski for LGBT Health – it was posited that many trans youth lack access to trans affirming care, which may put them at risk for HIV.

So researchers surveyed youth ages 14–21 (N = 228; 45% trans masculine, 41% trans feminine, 14% gender nonbinary) on GSM identity disclosure and acceptance, gender-affirming services, sexual health attitudes and behaviors, and interactions with PCPs involving GSM identity and concerns about stigma and confidentiality.

A factor analysis yielded three scales: GSM Stigma, Confidentiality Concerns, and GSM-Sexual Health Information. Items from the GSM Stigma scale showed that nearly half of respondents had not disclosed their GSM identity to their PCP due to concern about an unaccepting PCP. One-quarter of youth were less inclined to discuss GSM identity and sexual health with their PCP due to concern that their provider would disclose this information to parents; these concerns were greater among adolescents <18 and those not out to parents about their gender identity.

Only 25% felt their PCP was helpful about GSM-specific sexual health issues. Youth who were out to parents about their gender identity and had received gender-affirming hormone therapy were more likely to report receiving GSM-specific sexual health information.

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Transgender youth may not discuss their GSM identity or sexual health with PCPs because they anticipate GSM stigma and fear being “outed” to parents. As such, “PCPs should receive transgender-inclusive training to adequately address youths’ sexual health needs and privacy concerns.”

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Health & Wellness

1-in-4 girls, 1-in-10 boys report self-injury or attempt suicide due to fighting, bullying or forced sex

Adolescents were more likely to report deliberate self-injury if they noted being sad or thinking about or attempting suicide. Drug and alcohol use were also associated with self-injury, as was fighting, being electronically bullied, or having experienced forced sex.



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One in four (1 in 4) high school girls will deliberately injure themselves by methods as extreme as cutting themselves or burning their own skin, and about one in 10 high school boys deliberately hurt themselves without trying to kill themselves.

This is according to a new study from the University of Portland released in the American Journal of Public Health. Frank Deryck, M.A. initiated this study. Co-writers included Martin Monto, Ph.D. and Nick McRee, Ph.D.

Consistent with other studies, adolescents were more likely to report deliberate self-injury if they noted being sad or thinking about or attempting suicide. Drug and alcohol use were also associated with self-injury, as was fighting, being electronically bullied, or having experienced forced sex.

The study, the first of its kind to use weighted probability sampling, revealed significantly high levels of deliberate, non-suicidal self-injury among large, representative, non-clinical samples of high school students (n=64,671). The study used data from the Centers for Disease Control from 11 states in the US collected in 2015. Individual states had substantially different rates of self-injury, with boys ranging from 6.4% (Delaware) to 14.8% (Nevada) and girls from 17.7% (Delaware) to 30.8% (Idaho).

Among the patterns the study revealed was that the behavior was more commonly reported among 14-year olds and diminished with age. Rates were higher among students identifying as Native American, Hispanic, or Whites than they were among those identifying as Asian or Black.

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The findings are timely, as public concern with adolescent mental health has grown. Additionally, though deliberate self-injury is different than suicide, persons who self-injure are also more likely to consider and attempt suicide.

The authors argue that self-injury among adolescents is so widespread that clinical and therapeutic interventions may be insufficient to address this public health problem. Since many other health risk behaviors are associated with self-injury, efforts to address the problem should be incorporated into broader efforts to address mental health among children and adolescents.

A study done in 2012 actually also similarly noted that female students are more likely to have suicide behavior. In the Philippines, for instance, they are more likely to have suicide ideation than Indonesian students. However, Indonesian students with suicidal ideation were more likely to express their ideation by making a suicide plan (53.5%) compare to the counterparts (40.6%). Psychosocial factors, gender and school grade are important factors in students’ suicide behavior. Therefore, policy strengthening in counseling in the junior high schools is needed to prevent suicide.

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Health & Wellness

4 Things you can do today for your mental health

We can definitely do more to keep the conversation going, including taking care of our own mental health.



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Mental health is being talked about more than ever, which is an amazing thing. Having open and honest conversations can help us to all deal with mental health better, and stop the stigma that surrounds it. Just like normal health and varying states of it, we all have some state of mental health, and some need more help than others. We can definitely do more to keep the conversation going, including taking care of our own mental health.

But what are the best ways to take care of it and keep it balanced? Here are some ideas for you. Hopefully, this can help you and people that you’re around.

We can definitely do more to keep the conversation going, including taking care of our own mental health. PHOTO BY ROBINHIGGINS FROM PIXABAY.COM

Take Care of Physical Health

Poor physical health and mental health are closely connected. So if there is one thing that you can take away from this, it is that you should be taking care of yourself. Avoid bad habits like cigarettes as they can make you feel worse. Exercise where you can, which can be done in a gym or from home. Get some equipment like the best power rack for your home if needed. Or go running or do yoga. All can help you to deal with stress and poor mental health better. Drink plenty of water, eat well, and sleep well. All of the standard answers, but they do work.

Practice Mindfulness

We all lead busy lives, and as a result, we can all get overwhelmed and stressed out. This can lead to anxiety, as well as other mental health issues. So learning to be mindful, to take one thing at a time, is a really great skill to learn. Do you eat breakfast, while watching the news and scrolling through your phone? That is a lot to take in. Do one thing at a time, like simply eat your breakfast, and then you will be on the way to learning to be more mindful.

Set Goals

Setting goals can be a great thing for your esteem and confidence. It can do wonders for your mental health too. The key is setting yourself realistic goals, though. Think about where you want to be this time next year, and then look for realistic ways of getting there. Do you want to be in a different job or in a happier relationship? It could just be to get fitter than you currently are. Start small and go from there.

Break Up Routine

Routine can give us some confidence and help us know what we are meant to be doing and when. But it can be really quite dull and can bring you down when it is endless and repetitive. So although you can’t change everything, think about taking a different route to work, planning a road trip, or going to somewhere new to eat. Try some new things, and do different things, to make your normal routine a little more varied and interesting.

What else would you add to the list? It would be great to hear what you think.

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