Community Health

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In The Entrepreneurial World, Mental Health Problems Can Have Positive Effect, Says Researcher

Dr. Michael Freeman, clinical professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco, whose study suggests a link between mental health conditions and entrepreneurs.  (Beth Willon/KQED)

Dr. Michael Freeman, clinical professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco, whose study suggests a link between mental health conditions and entrepreneurs. (Beth Willon/KQED)

By Beth Willon

The suicides of some techies and hackers inspired two Bay area researchers to try and find out if there’s a link between mental health conditions and entrepreneurs.

Surprisingly, their first-of-a-kind study showed that the positive traits associated with certain mental health conditions may contribute to entrepreneurial success. Still, they acknowledge there are many unanswered questions.

“Those people in the bipolar spectrum can be visionary, innovative, charismatic people that have unlimited energy and inspire the confidence of investors and customers and staff,” said Michael Freeman, a clinical professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco. Continue reading

When Depression And Cultural Expectations Collide: One Teenager’s Story

Wynne Lee and her mother, Maggie Huang. plan their day over tea on Feb. 6, 2015. The mother and daughter rekindled their relationship after Lee started therapy to deal with her depression. (Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN).

Wynne Lee and her mother, Maggie Huang. plan their day over tea on Feb. 6, 2015. The mother and daughter rekindled their relationship after Lee started therapy to deal with her depression. (Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN).

by Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News

“My time is coming. It’s already time for me to die. I can’t wait. … So yeah I plan to kill myself during spring break, which by the way, starts in two days.”

Wynne Lee wrote that in a March 29, 2012 journal post.Her mind was at war with itself – one voice telling her to kill herself and another telling her to live. She had just turned 14.

She tried to push the thoughts away by playing video games and listening to music. Nothing worked. Then she started cutting herself. She’d pull out a razor, make a small incision on her ankle or forearm and watch the blood seep out. “Cutting was a sharp, instant relief,” she said.

Some days, that wasn’t enough. That’s when she’d think about suicide. She wrote her feelings in a journal in big loopy letters.

At first, Wynne thought she felt sad because she was having a hard 8th grade year. She and her boyfriend broke up. Girls were spreading rumors about her. A few childhood friends abandoned her. But months passed and the feelings of helplessness and loneliness wouldn’t go away.

“I was really happy as a kid and now I was feeling like this,” she said. “It was really unfamiliar and scary.”

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Californians With Mental Health Issues Report Discrimination, Stigma

A new study by the RAND Corporation finds that nearly 9 in 10 Californians who reported having a mental health problem in the past 12 months said they had experienced discrimination because of it.

mental health in letterpress typeMost often, respondents reported discrimination in intimate social relationships. But more than 40 percent also reported “high levels of discrimination at school, in the workplace, and from health care providers and law enforcement officials,” the study said,

The study is based on responses to the 2014 California Well-Being Survey. Researchers surveyed 1,066 people who had previously reported mild to serious psychological distress.

Other findings:

  • 81 percent of respondents who had previously suffered a mild to moderate or serious level of psychological distress said the public discriminates against mental illness.
  • Just 41 percent said that people are “caring and sympathetic” to people with mental illness.
  • More than two in three said they would definitely or probably hide a mental health problem from coworkers or classmates.
  • More than one in three said they would hide a problem from family or friends

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Ethnic Differences Thwart End-of-Life Conversations

There is a 45% increased risk of death in people who are lonely compared to not lonely, according to a UCSF study.

A new poll shows nearly one in five Hispanics has not discussed the kind of care they want as they get older. (Photo: Getty Images)

Virtually all doctors have difficulty talking to their patients about death, and those conversations are even harder when the patient’s ethnicity is different from the doctor’s, according to a study published Wednesday in the online journal Plos One.

Dr. VJ Periyakoil, author of the study, outlines a typical scenario that’s troubling to doctors. She describes a 65-year-old patient, an Asian woman who is smart and thinking clearly. But whenever the doctor asks her a question, it’s always the patient’s son who answers.

“As a doctor I would really struggle with what to do in a situation like that,” Periyakoil says, “where the patient has no voice, if you will.” Continue reading

Forget Public Health: The Politics of the California Vaccination Debate

(Craig Miller/KQED)

(Craig Miller/KQED)

Over on the KQED News Politics and Government Desk, John Myers hosts a terrific podcast on California politics. The most recent edition (published last Friday) took a hard look at the political debate in California over SB 277, a bill that would eliminate the state’s vaccine personal belief exemption.

Myers, KQED News’ Marisa Lagos and Anthony York of the Grizzly Bear talk about it starting at 11:20, and their discussion runs about 10 minutes:

We’ve written often (perhaps exhaustively) on State of Health about vaccines, but usually it’s been from a medical perspective or a public health perspective. But the debate around SB 277 has illuminated the politics around trying to change policy when a very loud, very vocal minority swamps the Capitol. Continue reading

San Pablo’s Doctors Medical Center to Close Tuesday

The emergency room at San Pablo's Doctors Medical Center will close permanently Tuesday at 7a.m., ending all patient care at the hospital. (Lisa Aliferis/KQED)

The emergency room at San Pablo’s Doctors Medical Center will close permanently Tuesday at 7 a.m., ending all patient care at the hospital. (Lisa Aliferis/KQED)

By Sara Hossaini

As Doctors Medical Center wellness director Tracy Taylor walks down the hospital’s long white halls, the first thing she mentions is just how strange it feels.

“It is very quiet, it feels very eerie and very different,” says Taylor.

DMC reluctantly closes its doors Tuesday after failing to find a solution to its financial woes.

The hospital began shutting things down — department by department — over the past couple of weeks after leaders said they had run out of viable options for bridging a stubborn $18-20 million annual deficit — something they blame on low Medi-Cal and Medicare reimbursement rates.
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California First in Care of Undocumented, But That’s Not Saying Much

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By David Gorn, CaliforniaHealthline

Undocumented immigrants get better health care in California than the rest of the country — but that’s not saying much, according to a new report released Thursday by UCLA researchers.

“California is in the lead of a very sorry pack.”    

“California is in the lead of a very sorry pack,” said Steven Wallace, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and co-author of the report. “For California to stay in the lead, we need to keep innovating.”

It’s unclear how UCLA’s findings will affect SB 4 by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), the bill to provide full-scope medical coverage to the undocumented, which cleared the Senate Committee on Health this week and now heads to Senate Appropriations. Continue reading

E-Cigarette Use Triples Among American Teenagers

Nicotine exposure at a young age 'may cause lasting harm to brain development,' warns Dr. Tom Frieden, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Getty Images)

Nicotine exposure at a young age ‘may cause lasting harm to brain development,’ warns Dr. Tom Frieden, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Getty Images)

By Rob Stein, NPR

A national survey confirms earlier indications that e-cigarettes are now more popular among teenage students than traditional cigarettes and other forms of tobacco, federal health officials reported Thursday.

450,000 middle school students now use e-cigarettes.
The findings prompted strong warnings from Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about the effects of any form of nicotine on young people.

“We want parents to know that nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age,” Frieden said.

“Adolescence is a critical time for brain development,” he added, in a written statement. “Nicotine exposure at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction and lead to sustained tobacco use.” Continue reading

Disneyland Measles Outbreak to be Declared Over

The outbreak sickened 134 Californians. (Marsaili McGrath/Getty Images)

The outbreak sickened more than 130 Californians. (Marsaili McGrath/Getty Images)

By Alicia Chang, AP

The state’s measles outbreak that began at Disneyland and reignited debate about vaccinations is nearing an end.

The outbreak will be declared over in California on Friday if no new cases pop up, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Disease investigators worked for months to contain the highly contagious disease that originated at Disney theme parks in December and spread to several other states and countries. More than 130 people in California were infected.

The outbreak cast a spotlight on the small but vocal anti-vaccine movement. Many who fell ill in the Disneyland outbreak were not immunized or had only one of the two recommended doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Continue reading

Cow’s Milk Found in Breast Milk Sold Online

A recent study shows 10 percent of human breast milk purchased online is contaminated with traces of cow’s milk.

A new study shows 10 percent of human breast milk purchased online is contaminated with cow’s milk. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Most doctors agree that ‘breast is best.’ Breastfed babies have lower rates of respiratory infections, ear infections, asthma, digestive problems, childhood obesity, asthma and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The public health message is being heard: in 2011 almost 80 percent of newborn U.S. infants were initially breastfed.

But sometimes mothers can’t breastfeed. They may not have sufficient milk production, or maybe their child is allergic to the ingredients in infant formula, so they seek an alternative: buying breast milk on the Internet.

“For an infant who is allergic to cow’s milk or failing to thrive because of formula, this is a huge public health problem.”

The FDA doesn’t approve. Breast milk purchased online isn’t always properly screened for infectious diseases, and it has a chance of being contaminated — with things like cow’s milk.

A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics reveals 10 percent of breast milk purchased online is contaminated with cow’s milk. A team at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio anonymously purchased 102 samples of milk advertised as breast milk online. They found 10 percent of bovine DNA in 10 of the samples.

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