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Open up about barriers rural residents face in getting help for mental health

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We’re tight-lipped in the farmland. To suffer in silence seems to be the way we have been taught. But I think we need to acknowledge and address our problems. October 10th was World Mental Health Day and gave me a nudge. It’s okay to admit that we’re not okay. Write it down on a health questionnaire. Tell your doctor. Be honest and give voice to your mental health, not just for yourself but for those who love you, who need you.

Mental health is important for everyone, whether in cities or in the country. Photo by Kallie Coates / Grand Vale Creative LLC

In the city or in the country, we are alike when it comes to mental suffering and stigma. The difference is that those of us in non-urban areas face three additional mental health challenges. According to the Rural Health Information Hub, these challenges include:

  • Accessibility: “Rural residents often travel long distances to use services, are less likely to have psychiatric insurance and are less likely to recognize an illness,” says RHIhub. Personally, I’m insured, but if I keep an appointment I’ll take two to four hours off from work to attend. There have been instances where I’ve taken a full day off to do a 200-mile round-trip for a counseling appointment. Not all rural residents can change this schedule. Telemedicine options have been expanded by the pandemic. I hope telemedicine continues to improve mental health accessibility.
  • Availability: I love rural clinics and support them with routine health care. However, at the moment I have no possibility of psychological support in a rural health clinic. According to RHIhub, “there is a chronic shortage of mental health professionals and mental health providers are more likely to practice in urban centers.” I called an expert I had seen years ago after a new appointment and was told they were six would book up to a year for new dates. At first, I had empathy for the person who had to answer the phone and make appointments. Next, I thought of those in the mental health services industry who are unable to get in touch with everyone who wants to see them. We need more experts. I still want to see this professionally and personally. I will wait for your appointment. I will also see another professional on video sooner.
  • Acceptance: The first time I wrote about mental health in this column, I received feedback from someone who felt they knew me enough in real life to comment and say I had the mental health issues or the reality Not really familiar with the effects of mental illness is a family disease. She was wrong. I usually don’t stick with the haters or negative feedback, but it did for a while. Then came a person who personally thanked them for talking about mental health. Don’t let this stop you from seeking professional mental health help. “The stigma of needing or receiving psychiatric care and the limited selection of trained professionals who work in rural areas create barriers to care,” says RHIhub. We can break down barriers by saying that it is okay to seek psychological help for you or your loved ones.

Be honest and give voice to your mental health, not just for yourself but for those who love you, who need you, says Katie Pinke.  Erin Brown / Grand Vale Creative

Be honest and give voice to your mental health, not just for yourself but for those who love you, who need you, says Katie Pinke. Erin Brown / Grand Vale Creative

We are all affected by mental health problems. Unless you have any mental health problems or severe mental illness, you know someone who is. Add in a global health pandemic and we’re more isolated now than we were two years ago. Don’t be silent about mental health or serious mental illness. When someone confides in you, help them get in touch with professional help. Listen more than talk. Showing up with your presence is a difference maker.

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You are not alone. You are needed. You are loved. Your presence is a crucial part of someone’s community. I made a deliberate decision not to let the waves of fear swallow me up that I sometimes feel. I fight it with a network of support. I also know that a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, fresh air, quiet time in my beliefs, and a few things for myself that I enjoy have positive effects on my mental health.

Caring for our mental health is just as important as caring for our physical health. Let’s start by breaking down the rural mental health barriers of availability, accessibility, and acceptance by seeking the help we need regardless of the travel time, waiting time for appointments, or the stigma we need to overcome.

To read more of Katie Pinke’s The Pinke Post columns, click here.

Pinke is the editor and managing director of Agweek. You can reach her at kpinke@agweek.com or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.

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Indiana flu cases remain low, but slowly rising, following national trend

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INDIANAPOLIS – With the holiday season in full swing, health officials want to remind Hoosiers that it is not time to be cautious about protecting against the flu.

Influenza-like illnesses remain low across the state of Indiana, but are slowly increasing in line with a national trend, according to the CDC, according to data released Friday by the Indiana State Department of Health.

Several health professionals from across the state said they had seen an increase in patient flu cases.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in cases lately,” said Caitlin Krouse, a home nurse at Matthew 25 Health and Care in Fort Wayne.

“We’re seeing a few cases, but probably not as many as in previous years. I think there are a lot of things that contribute, ”said Dr. Saura Fortin, Chief Medical Officer, Primary Care Clinics at Eskenazi Health Centers.

“One of the things is definitely that we wear masks that protect us from the flu, but also from COVID, as both diseases are airborne,” added Fortin. “I also think a lot of people may not come out to get the flu tested, they have mild symptoms, they get tested for COVID, they go and say it’s not COVID and they just stay home.”

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Health professionals said it was around the time of year they start seeing more viral infections in patients.

“We’re even beginning to sort of catch this late Thanksgiving holiday season and see the viruses that spread during those times, including the flu,” said Krouse.

Last year, flu season was virtually non-existent due to the prevalence of mask wearing and COVID-19 precautions, and while the numbers don’t represent a massive increase, there was an increase in the flu-like illness compared to that time period last year.

Data from ISDH shows that for the week ending November 27, 2021, fewer than 2% of patients in Indiana’s emergency rooms and emergency rooms had flu-like illness as their main complaint.

In 2020, over the same period, that number was even lower, according to a trend map.

However, in 2019, before the pandemic, more than 2% of patients in emergency rooms and emergency rooms in Indiana had flu-like illness as their main complaint.

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Although the numbers don’t show a significant increase from 2020 onwards, the trend is up and to avoid it, health officials say people need to remain vigilant and take steps to protect themselves and others.

“We know that COVID has ruled our lives and our media for the past few years, but we kind of forget that the flu is a very, very serious disease forever. For a very, very long time, ”said Krouse.

“So we can’t take it for granted. It’s a diagnosis; It’s a virus that kills people every year and that’s why we have to really think seriously about seeing even small percentages, small, tiny increases in those numbers because these are people on the other end of it who are affected and affected, so It’s really important to keep a close eye on it and to protect yourself, your family, your community and the people you love, ”said Krause.

According to ISDH data, there was one flu-related death in late October of the 2021-2022 flu season. That person, state health officials said, was 65 years old.

“We definitely don’t want to scare the patient, but at the same time we want to be realistic about what these diagnoses mean for patients and individuals,” said Krouse.

“What we see as healthcare providers is often extremely unpredictable. We know that, for example, people with comorbidities, the very young, the very old, might be at risk for these things, but we often see that this is not always the same, ”she added.

Both Krouse and Fortin are asking Hoosiers to continue to practice measures that will help reduce the spread of viral diseases as the colder weather and holiday season approaches.

“It is not yet time to relax these measures that we have taken. You should therefore continue to wear a mask whether or not you have been vaccinated because it will continue to protect you and everyone else, ”said Fortin.

“If we relax these precautions, if we relax and don’t wear a mask all the time, social distancing ourselves, washing our hands, we will see more of these viruses,” said Fortin.

Both also encourage Hoosiers to get their flu shots as well as their COVID-19 vaccines, in case they haven’t already.

“Go, please get vaccinated. We know the vaccines help curb the spread of disease, and so do flu vaccines, COVID vaccines, ”said Krouse.

If you’re sick, Fortin and Krouse encourage Hoosiers to seek medical attention and get tested, or to contact your doctor.

“The flu, just like COVID, has a treatment that we can offer people, but if we don’t know you have the flu, that treatment is not available to you,” said Fortin.

“If people are showing symptoms and are not entirely sure what to do about them, always contact their doctor,” said Krouse.

She added, “It’s really difficult to tell if someone has had flu symptoms or COVID symptoms or some type of upper respiratory disease, so you can get the correct diagnosis because we’re going to treat these things a little differently.”

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Early Omicron Reports Say Illness May Be Less Severe

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JOHANNESBURG – The Covid-19 virus is spreading faster than ever in South Africa, the country’s president said on Monday, an indication of how the new Omicron variant is fueling the pandemic, but there are early signs that Omicron is causing less serious diseases than other forms of the virus.

Researchers at a large Pretoria hospital complex reported that their patients with the coronavirus are much less sick than those they treated before, and that other hospitals are seeing the same trends. In fact, most of their infected patients were admitted for other reasons and had no Covid symptoms.

However, scientists cautioned against placing too much emphasis on potential good news of lesser severity or bad news such as early evidence that previous coronavirus infection offers Omicron little immunity. The variant was only discovered last month, and more study is needed before experts can say much about it with confidence. Additionally, the real effects of coronavirus aren’t always immediately felt as hospital admissions and deaths often lag well behind the first outbreaks.

Dr. Emily S. Gurley, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said of the signs the variant is less severe, “It wouldn’t be shocking if that were true, but I’m not sure we do can still conclude. “.”

In the absence of more detailed information, governments have responded to Omicron with severe restrictions on international travel and new vaccination regulations. World leaders who have been accused of reacting too slowly or weakly at the start of the pandemic would like to be viewed as measures, although some experts doubt the travel restrictions are an overreaction.

The variant has spread rapidly and has so far been detected in more than 30 countries on six continents. Health officials and researchers say it could be the most contagious form of the virus to date, and that it could soon displace the Delta variant, which emerged as the predominant form last year. This has fueled fears that a world eager to overcome two years of pandemic hardship could slip into yet another cycle of disease, lockdown, and economic suffering.

In Europe as well as in South Africa there are first signs that Omicron cases can be relatively mild, albeit easily ill.

In the UK, the government said Monday that the number of Omicron cases there had risen to 336, two and a half times as many as on Friday. Denmark reported 261 cases, quadrupling the number on Friday, and local media has reported that a holiday lunch for high school students may have been a superspread event with dozens of people catching the new variant.

The UK and Denmark are doing an unusually large amount of genomic sequencing of virus samples to distinguish one variant from another and detect changes, suggesting that many Omicron cases in other countries simply go undetected.

On Monday, the United States required international travelers arriving in the country to show evidence of a negative coronavirus test, which was done no more than 24 hours before their flight, a standard that can be difficult to meet. Previously, fully vaccinated travelers could show negative test results up to 72 hours before departure.

China, a key part of the global travel and tourism industry, announced that it would keep international flights at 2.2 percent pre-Covid levels during the winter in order to maintain its zero-covid approach. The issuance of new passports has been almost completely stopped since August, arriving travelers have to be quarantined for 14 days and extensive papers and several virus tests have to be presented.

In South Africa, where scientists say Omicron is already dominant, the pandemic is picking up again. A month ago, South Africa had fewer than 300 new virus cases a day; on Friday and Saturday there were more than 16,000. It fell slightly on Sunday and Monday, but this may be due to a reporting delay often seen on weekends.

“As the country enters a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, we are experiencing an infection rate that we have not seen since the beginning of the pandemic,” wrote President Cyril Ramaphosa in an open letter to the country. He added: “Almost a quarter of all Covid-19 tests are now positive. Compare that with two weeks ago, when the proportion of positive tests was around 2 percent. “

A report released this weekend by doctors at the Steve Biko Academic and Tshwane District Hospital Complex in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, offers the strongest support yet for a more hopeful view of Omicron, despite its author, Dr. Fareed Abdullah, Reasons Cited Be careful with conclusions.

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Dec. 2/6/2021, 6:55 p.m. ET

Dr. Abdullah, director of the HIV / AIDS and Tuberculosis Research Bureau at the South African Medical Research Council, examined the 42 coronavirus patients who were hospitalized last Thursday and found that 29 of them, 70 percent, were breathing ordinary air. Of the 13 who used supplemental oxygen, four had it for non-Covid-related reasons.

Only one of the 42 patients was in the intensive care unit, in line with numbers released last week by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, which showed that despite the surge in infections, only 106 patients were in the intensive care unit in the past two weeks .

Most patients were admitted “for diagnoses unrelated to Covid-19,” the report said, and their infection “is an incidental finding in these patients and is largely driven by hospital policy that requires testing of all patients”. It is said that two other large hospitals in Gauteng Province, which include Pretoria and Johannesburg, had an even lower percentage of infected patients who needed oxygen.

Dr. Abdullah said in an interview that he went to a Covid station and found a scene unrecognizable from earlier phases of the pandemic when it was full of the buzzing and beeping of oxygen devices.

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“Out of 17 patients, four received oxygen,” he said. “For me, it’s not in a Covid ward, it’s like a normal ward.”

Dr. Johns Hopkins’ Gurley noted that the severity of the disease reflects not only the variant, but who it infects. Two years into the pandemic, far more people have some immunity to the virus through vaccination, natural infection, or both, and this could lead to milder cases.

“We don’t know how to read the genetic sequences to tell exactly how this variant will develop,” she said. “We are now getting more information from South Africa, a particular population with a particular profile of pre-existing immunity.”

Dr. Maria D. van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical director for Covid, told CBS News on Sunday that even if a smaller percentage of Omicron cases were found to be severe, it means a larger number of cases could make up for it more hospitalizations and deaths.

Dr. Abdullah also examined all 166 patients with the coronavirus admitted to the Biko-Tshwane complex between November 14 and November 29, and found that their average hospital stay was just 2.8 days and less than 7 percent died . Over the past 18 months, the mean length of stay for these patients was 8.5 days, and 17 percent died. Shorter stays would take the pressure off the hospitals.

Eighty percent of the 166 patients were under 50 years of age, and similar numbers were reported across Gauteng – a sharp contrast to previous cohorts of hospitalized Covid patients who were usually older. This could be because South Africa has a relatively high vaccination rate in people over 50 and a low one in younger people, but one of the big unknowns at Omicron is whether existing vaccines offer strong protection against it.

Part of the caution in interpreting Dr. Abdullah’s report is that the numbers are small, the results haven’t been peer-reviewed, and he doesn’t know how many of the patients had Omicron, unlike other variants of the coronavirus – although the government reported last week that they already had three Accounted for quarter of the virus samples in South Africa.

Dr. Abdullah acknowledged these drawbacks, noting that there could be a delay between the first appearance of Omicron and an increase in serious illness and death. But despite the huge increase in cases, the number of Covid deaths in South Africa has not yet increased.

Lynsey Chutel reported from Johannesburg, Richard Pérez-Peña and Emily Anthes from New York. Coverage was contributed by Megan Specia, Isabella Kwai, Sui-Lee Wee, Juston Jones and Jenny Gross.

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Miller awarded prestigious grant to research policy impacts, health disparities

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Contact: Sarah Nicholas

Gabe Miller (Photo by Robby Lozano)

STARKVILLE, Miss. — A Mississippi State Sociology faculty member is awarded a prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to study how policy affects the health outcomes of members of the LGBT community and other marginalized groups.

Gabe H. Miller, assistant professor of sociology and faculty member in MSU’s African American Studies program, has received the $ 248,431 two-year scholarship from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health. The scholarship is part of the RWJF’s Health Equity Scholars for Action initiative. Since 1972, the organization has supported research and programs targeting America’s most pressing health problems – from substance abuse to improving access to quality health care. More information can be found at https://www.rwjf.org/en/how-we-work/building-a-culture-of-health.html

Miller’s Prize is awarded for his proposal “Investigating the Effects of Political and Political Determinants of Health on the Health Outcomes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People”. He said he would use his research to guide policymakers towards data-driven policies promoting the health, wellbeing and equal opportunities of the population, and to work on building a “health culture,” which is a core theme at RWJF.

“Racism, homophobia and transphobia affect the health of people of color and LGBT people through discrimination, stigma and minority stress,” said Miller, noting that LGBT people are at greater risk for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol problems and suicide psychiatric difficulties.

“An intersectional approach to health advocates considering how systems of inequality combine or overlap to produce different health outcomes based on where individuals fall across multiple structures of inequality,” Miller said.

“I will examine the effects of more than 40 different LGBT protections in all 50 states from 2013-2020 to examine how those protections at the federal level affect mental health, physical health, chronic illness, access to health and people’s health behaviors affect LGBT populations. Additionally, I will examine whether these guidelines have different implications when we consider the racial and sexual orientation overlap, ”he said.

Deputy Dean of Research Giselle Thibaudeau said: “Given our commitment to health equity, the MSU is fortunate to have Dr. To have Miller’s passion and expertise in the health inequalities of marginalized communities. We are proud of the recognition and funding of his research by the RWJF. More importantly, we are very proud and hopeful of the impact of Dr. Miller’s efforts on these communities and health equality in general are. “

Born in Texas, he has been a faculty member since 2020 and received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Texas A&M University. His research and teaching interests at MSU include medical sociology and health disparities.

As part of the MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Sociology Department is available at www.sociology.msstate.edu. Further information on the African American Studies course can be found at www.aas.msstate.edu.

MSU is the premier university in Mississippi, available online at www.msstate.edu.

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