I call myself the human barometer. Don’t laugh. It’s true. I’m sure many of you can relate. You can feel your health change as the weather changes. In recent years, studies have been undertaken to back up the idea that the weather affects your health.
A letter on the aftermath of the Newtown shootings from Vicki Smith, executive director of Disability Rights NC.
In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting, there has been a predictable uptick in public discussion of mental heath care and treatment. It is natural that we all want an explanation, some way to fit this terrible story into the way we think about the world.
In an effort to make sense of the heartbreaking loss of life, we are tempted to list all the ways in which a perpetrator of violence is different from us, different from the people we love, and different from the members of our own community. But the truth is there are people in all of our communities, and in many of our families, who need and want treatment but can't access it. It is a sad reality that many of our systems of care are under resourced. The result? Mental Health services are not always reliably available to those in need.
So instead, we keep asking, "Why didn't someone see the warning signs? Why didn't someone do something?" It is very likely someone did notice - a parent, a sibling or other family member, a teacher, a classmate or co-worker. And that person very likely did try to do something - but was faced with insurmountable barriers. The reality is there is a lack of affordable, accessible, preventive and coordinated community-based mental health services. Necessary services for people with challenging behaviors are very hard to find. The toll on families and on the individual with mental health needs is devastating. Look at what we've done to our public mental health services in North Carolina.
In providing mental health care services, North Carolina has systematically shifted focus to cost control rather than outcomes. Though it is called "managed care," it would more accurately be called "rationed care" so long as the primary goal is saving money rather than meeting the behavioral health care needs of our communities. The NC model has eliminated case managers who helped develop a network of services. This model is likely to result in more people falling through the cracks.
The NC General Assembly hears report after report about how much money is being spent or saved but rarely learns about what that money buys. The focus is on the cost of services for people living with a mental illness and very little discussion about the long term cost to our communities when necessary services are unavailable. Service definitions are developed with an eye to controlling the "woodwork effect," the result of too many people becoming eligible for a service that they need. The consequence is crises like that looming in our Personal Care Supports service.
Disability Rights NC represents individuals who are desperate to get help they need to feel safe and to survive. We represent many families who are frantically trying to get help for their troubled children. The shooter in Connecticut was only 20. In our state, he could have already fallen through cracks in the service delivery system - too old for services for children and youth programs and too young for the adult service system, both of which are riddled with gaps. We must do better.
In North Carolina, let us not fall into the easy trap of stigmatizing people with mental illness. People with mental illness are us; they are part of our families; and they are part of our communities. Let us respond to tragedy with compassion and a common sense approach to treatment that includes accessible, affordable services to promote recovery and community integration.
Orange County residents are healthier, wealthier and wiser than most of the state, but pay a larger local tax burden and have a growing number of families in need.
Those were some of the facts presented to more than 160 business and community leaders Tuesday at the fifth annual State of the Community breakfast. The Triangle Community Foundation, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and community partners hosted the Friday Center event.
A story about the event will appear in Sunday’s Chapel Hill News.
Chamber President Aaron Nelson said Orange County needs to increase its 13.2 percent commercial tax base and create local jobs, which will help families on the losing end of a growing income gap.
“We’ve got a bunch of (developments) coming that will help, where we can grow local jobs, increase local spending and take care on the social services side to make sure that everybody has the services they need,” he said.
The event covered the gamut of life in Orange County, from individual and environmental health to teen pregnancy, education and the local economy.
Click the link below for a closer look at the State of the Community slideshow.
Carole Tanzer Miller, features editor, writes: I have stepped on the scale for the world to see for the last time.
Carole Tanzer Miller, Features editor, writes: Dr. Andrew Ordon, co-host of the syndicated TV show “The Doctors,” has a new book out, “Better in 7: The Ultimate Seven-Day Guide to a Better You.” It includes tips for avoiding the bumps and lumps of cellulite. In a piece for McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, the good doctor outlines them. Check it out:
A story Monday in Life, etc., about a woman confronting her childhood bully brought a strong response from a local mental health professional. The letter is too long for print but was worth wharing. If you missed the original story, read it here.
While I am happy for Kristi Barlette that she was able to discover her own inner strength after years of verbal abuse, it was extremely unfortunate of her to then draw the conclusion that adults shouldn't intervene ( "Rather than trying to get parents or guidance counselors to intervene" ) but should focus only on "arming" kids to "handle bullying."
Is this what we should be teaching abused spouses or kids who suffer emotional abuse at home? Sounds a little different when we look at verbal abuse in those situations, doesn't it? And yet, what's different other than the physical location of the abuse and the identity of the abusers?
For kids, they have as little choice of leaving school as they do of leaving their home. They cannot escape their abusers. And yet, in the context of abuse in the home, we have whole departments of government whose job it is to ensure that children are not living in abusive homes. But at school, where children spend far more time than at home, it's "just bullying" and kids should embrace the "sticks and stones" mentality.
I have spent 14 years providing therapy to children and adults who carry the emotional scars of this abuse with them. Of course healing is possible, and many do discover their own inner strength but unfortunately many do not. Just look at the teen suicide rate. I started my career working with teens at Holly Hill hospital. You don't become a patient there unless you've already gotten to the point of no longer wanting to exist. And yes, at the time of Columbine we had numerous "bullied" teens admitted because they saw another way of "getting rid" of their own abusers.
There are numerous programs out there to teach empowerment to kids and schools, and many do produce dramatic reductions in the rate of abuse at those schools. I'm all for implementing these approaches, but I take tremendous exception to minimizing the problem itself.
Remember the video of the bus monitor that surfaced a few weeks ago? Everyone was so horrified (and rightly so). The kids were in the court system and suspended from school in short order. Absolutely, clearly their actions constituted abuse. Now picture the bus monitor as an 11-year-old kid. Suddenly it becomes "bullying." Really? Why?
When a child or an adult must live day in and day out with verbal and many times physical abuse, the answer is not to ignore the abuser(s). I'm pretty confident CPS and Interact don't jump in and focus on teaching those battered kids and spouses how to "act more confident!"
Good for you, Ms. Barlette, I really am glad you came out stronger on the other side of your abuse. But you weren't "bullied" -- you were abused, for many years.
Laura Kanai, MS, MFT, LPC
Carole Tanzer Miller, features editor, writes: A new driver's license and a milestone birthday sent me to the magnifying mirror in a panic. Is that scary visage on my new I.D. really mine, complete with the turkey neck, saggy jowls and droopy eyelids of an old woman?
You know the answer.
Carole Tanzer Miller, features editor, writes: If there's one food that's my downfall, it's cheese. I just love the stuff. So do most Americans.
According to the Washington Post, the average American ate 33 pounds of cheese in 2010 -- three times as much as in 1970. As the Post's commentary "One nation, under cheese" points out, few foods contain as much saturated fat. But I just can't resist.
Carole Tanzer Miller, features editor, writes: There's a funny scale making the rounds online these days -- one that lets you see just how much weight you've lost, in stunningly graphic terms. My health coach, Charity Husk, of Take Shape for Life posted it recently on her Facebook page, and it gave everyone a good laugh.
Turns out the 65 pounds I lost (and have kept off almost two years!) falls between the weight of a male elephant's (censored) and how much fats and oils an average American consumes in a year. Oh my!
Where do you fit in? Here are some other rough equivalents:
1 pound = a Guinea Pig
1.5 pounds = a dozen Krispy Kreme glazed donuts
2 pounds = a rack of baby back ribs
3 pounds = an average human brain
5 pounds = a Chihuahua
10 pounds = chemical additives an American consumes each year.
15 pounds = 10 dozen large eggs
20 pounds = an automobile tire
25 pounds = an average 2-year-old
30 pounds = amount of cheese an average American eats in a year
40 pounds = an average human leg
50 pounds = a small bale of hay
55 pounds = a 5000 BTU air conditioner
60 pounds = an elephant's penis
70 pounds = an Irish Setter
80 pounds = the World's Largest Ball of Tape
90 pounds = a newborn calf
100 pounds = a 2-month-old horse
120 pounds = the amount of trash you throw away in a month
130 pounds = a newborn giraffe
140 pounds = the amount of refined sugar an average American eats in a year
150 pounds = the complete Oxford English Dictionary
200 pounds = 2 Bloodhounds
235 pounds - Arnold Schwarzenegger
300 pounds = an average football lineman
The Obesity Control Center has a more detailed list. Check it out.
The Millers are fresh off a weeklong food fest we nicknamed "The Great Yankee BBQ Tour."
Some of you may wonder if it's even possible to get good 'cue north of the Mason-Dixon, but those of us who migrated to the Triangle from the Northeast know it is, indeed, possible. I'm not talking about the vinegar-based Eastern North Carolina variety, but there is definitely some good grub to be had. But is it possible to partake and stay within the comfort zone?