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Healer Heal Thyself: Why Health Care Professionals Are Becoming Stressed, Depressed, and Suicidal

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Part 3 – What We Can Do

There is a worldwide contagious disease that most of us have experienced, but very few understand. According to the man who first identified this disease, Alvin Toffler,

“It will not be found in Index Medicus or in any listing of psychological abnormalities. Yet, unless intelligent steps are taken to combat it, millions of human beings will find themselves increasingly disoriented, progressively incompetent to deal rationally with their environments. The malaise, mass neurosis, irrationality, and free-floating violence already apparent in contemporary life are merely a foretaste of what may lie ahead unless we come to understand and treat this disease.”

Most healthcare professionals see the effects of this disease in their practices. Most are suffering from it themselves but aren’t even aware that they have been infected. It is called “Future Shock” and the human species has been impacted for a long time. Here’s how Toffler described this disease when he first wrote about it in 1965 in an article in Horizon magazine:

“I coined the term ‘future shock’ to describe the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.”

Toffler goes on to say in his book, Future Shock.

“It became clear that future shock is no longer a distantly potential danger, but a real sickness from which increasingly large numbers of already suffer. This psycho-biological condition can be described in medical and psychiatric terms. It is the disease of change.”

I think we can all agree that change of all kinds has continued to accelerate since 1970, but we have not taken the “intelligent steps to combat it” that Toffler called on us to address fifty-four years ago. Since then, there is another disease we have failed to address. In addition to the disease of change, we are experiencing a disease of complexity.

The latter problem was described by Rebecca Costa in her book, The Watchman’s Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse that was published in 2010. She examined complex cultures throughout the world and described what happens when our human brains are unable to handle the complexity of society.

Costa examined past civilizations that had collapsed from the Mayans to the Roman Empire to see what we could learn that would help us address our current culture and predict whether we are heading for collapse. She found a numerous early warning signs including the following:

1. Gridlock. Like a major traffic jam, major parts of the system fail to function.

“A civilization insists on deploying methos once used to resolve smaller simpler problems to solve larger, more complex issues. Although these methods repeatedly fail, like a swimmer caught in an undertow, we stubbornly pursue variations of the same failed solutions decade after decade.” 

2. Irrational Opposition.

“Irrational opposition occurs when the act of rejecting, criticizing, suppressing, ignoring, misrepresenting, marginalizing, and resisting rational solutions becomes the accepted norm.” 

3. The Personalization of Blame.

“Throughout history civilizations have had a clear pattern of foisting the responsibility for complex problems onto the shoulders of individuals whenever complex problems persist.”

4. Silo Thinking. “Silo thinking,” says Costa,

“is the compartmentalized thinking and behavior that prohibits the collaboration needed to address complex problems. Instead of encouraging cooperation between individuals and groups that share a common objective, silo thinking causes undermining, competition, and divisiveness.”

5. Extreme Economics.

“When simple principles in business, such as risk/reward and profit/loss, become the litmus test for determining the value of people and priorities, initiatives and institutions.”

            While many have hoped, and continue to hope, that with enough education and insight we can avoid the collapse that so many previous civilizations have experienced, there is increasing recognition that we have passed the point of no return. Humans have so disrupted many of our human life-support systems that collapse is inevitable.

            The world-renowned biologist E.O. Wilson summarizes the human dilemma.

“The real problem of humanity is that we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and God-like technology. We’re a mixed-up, and in many ways, an archaic species in transition.”

            Although healthcare professionals and the general public may not be aware of future shock and diseases of change and complexity, we are all aware of problems of anxiety. In his book, Anxious: Using The Brain to Understand and Treat Fear and Anxiety, Joseph LeDoux says,

“Collectively fear and anxiety disorders are the most prevalent of all psychiatric problems in the United States, affecting about twenty  percent of the population with an associated economic cost estimated to exceed $40 billion annually.”

            Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, author of Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind, says,

“Anxiety is everywhere. It always has been. But in the last several years, it has come to dominate our lives in a way that it perhaps never has.”

            Dr. Wendy Suzuki is a professor of neural science and psychology at the Center for Neural Science at New York University and is a celebrated international authority on neuroplasticity. In her book, Good Anxiety: Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion, she says,

“We live in an age of anxiety. Like an omnipresent, noxious odor we’ve grown used to, anxiety has become a constant condition, a fact of life on this planet. From global pandemics to crashing economies, to intense, daily family challenges, we have plenty of justifiable reasons to feel anxious.”

            Clearly healthcare professionals are not only not immune to these problems, but we may actually be at higher risk because of who we are, where and how we work, and are feelings of professional responsibility to help those in need. We may need special support communities to help to keep ourselves sane so that we can help others.

            In her powerful and hopeful book, Who Do We Choose to Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, and Restoring Sanity, cultural pathfinder and author Margaret Wheatley, says,

“My aspiration is for you to see clearly so that you may act wisely. If we don’t know where we are, if we don’t know what to prepare for, then any path we choose will keep us wandering in the wilderness, increasingly desperate, increasingly lost.”

            As someone who has been working as a healthcare professional for more than fifty years, I have come to realize that we will continue to undermine our own health if we act like “lone rangers” fighting to change things on our own. We either become as dysfunctional as the systems we are trying to change or our own mental, emotional, and relational health is compromised.

Margaret Wheately has an answer that I have found to be workable and effective.

“As leaders dedicated to serving the causes and people we treasure, confronted by this unrelenting tsunami, what are we to do?, says Wheatley. My answer to this is also stated with full confidence: We need to restore sanity by awakening the human spirit. We can only achieve this if we undertake the most challenging and meaningful work of our leader lives: creating Islands of Sanity.”

She goes on to say,

An Island of Sanity is a gift of possibility and refuge created by people’s commitment to form healthy community to do meaningful work. It requires sane leaders with unshakable faith in people’s innate generosity, creativity, and kindness.”

In her new book, Restoring Sanity: Practices to Awaken Generosity, Creativity & Kindness in Ourselves and Our Organizations, she offers guidance and practical wisdom for creating and sustaining Islands of Sanity. I created my own Island of Sanity in 1979 when I joined a men’s group. We began as seven guys who made a commitment to support each other so we could do the work we knew was important in the world while staying sane. I wrote about our experiences in an article “’Til Death Do Us Part: The Life and Times of My 45-Year-Old Men’s Group.”

If you would like to learn more about my books, training programs, and current thinking, you can contact me at MenAlive.com.  

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The Truth About Whole-Body Scans

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Take a drive around certain neighborhoods in Los Angeles and you may spot as many signs advertising body scans as burger joints. Or maybe you’ve seen the ads on TV or the internet: “Protect your health! Get a body scan now!” 

Are whole-body CT scans really able to do that – and what are the risks? And are DEXA scans a good way to check on your body composition?

While technologies vary, most of these high-tech checkups use computed tomography (CT) scans to examine your entire body or specific parts, such as the heart and lungs, to try to catch dangerous diseases in earlier, more curable stages.

During the 15- or 20-minute scan, you lie inside a doughnut-shaped machine as an imaging device rotates around you, transmitting radiation. The technique combines multiple X-ray images and, with the aid of a computer, produces cross-sectional views of your body. By examining the views, a doctor can look for early signs of abnormalities.

The scans aren’t cheap – whole-body scans run anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per scan and usually aren’t reimbursed by insurance. And the question of how helpful these scans really are is a matter of debate among medical experts.

Advocates promote scans as a smart part of a routine physical exam. But if you’re healthy, with no worrisome symptoms, a scan is usually not warranted, says Arl Van Moore, MD, a radiologist and clinical assistant professor of radiology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, who is also a spokesman for the American College of Radiology (ACR).

According to the ACR’s official position, there’s not enough evidence to recommend scans for those with no symptoms or family history suggesting disease. But Van Moore sees a possible exception. “There may be a benefit to people at high risk of lung cancers, such as current smokers or those with a long history of smoking,” he says. 

For healthy people, the scans may cause undue worry – for instance, by finding something that turns out to be benign. Plus, the amount of radiation exposure, especially with frequent scans, is another concern. If scans are done too often, the radiation exposure may actually increase the number of cancer cases over the long term, according to a 2004 report in the journal Radiology.

The American College of Preventive Medicine says that whole-body scans “aren’t very good at finding cancer in people without symptoms” and that the radiation you get from these scans can increase your risk of cancer.

Before scheduling a body scan, talk to your doctor about your overall health risks and how a scan may or may not help you. In particular, ask yourself:

  • What’s your history? Do you have a personal or family history of lung disease, heart disease, or specific cancers?
  • Did you inhale? Are you a longtime smoker?
  • If so, how long? Even if you’ve quit smoking, for how many years were you an active smoker?

 

This is a different type of scan, called DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry). You might have heard of DEXA scans to check on bone density to see if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia. It uses low-level X-rays to check on your body composition, like how much body fat you have and where it is in your body. 

There are various ways to measure your body fat. Experts have told WebMD in the past that DEXA scanning is a “very good technique” and “one of the most accurate methods out there.” And researchers have called it the “gold standard” for checking on body composition – specifically, for bone, fat, and muscle. But it’s not covered by insurance, unless you’re getting a DEXA scan to screen for bone density. The cost of a DEXA scan varies, starting around $75 in some cases.

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5 Family and Community Engagement Strategies to Improve Student Outcomes

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Strong school-family-community partnerships bring exceptional value to children’s education. A recent book by Karen L. Mapp, a senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and four other co-collaborators synthesizes the available research to explain who benefits from these partnerships and the many advantages of family and community engagement.

Everyone Wins! The Evidence for Family-School Partnerships & Implications for Practice (Scholastic, 2022) cites various research to demonstrate how family-community-school partnerships benefit all stakeholder groups when they’re approached effectively:

  • Students have higher grades, better attendance, deeper engagement in school, greater self-esteem, and higher rates of graduation and college attainment.
  • Educators enjoy better job satisfaction, better success motivating students from different backgrounds, more family support, and an improved mindset about students and their families.
  • Families have stronger relationships with their children and better rapport with educators. They can navigate school policies and advocate for their children more effectively.
  • Schools enjoy a better climate, more support from their community, and improved staff morale—leading to better teacher retention.
  • School districts and communities become better places to live and raise children. They experience fewer disciplinary problems, greater participation in afterschool programs, and more family and student involvement in decision-making.
community members talking and hugging in matching green volunteer t-shirts in front of an outdoor mural

What elements make school-family-community partnerships particularly effective? Here are five tips for how school systems can successfully promote family and community engagement in education and drive better student outcomes.

1. Successful Family Engagement Requires Intentional Leadership

Engaging with families has to be a core activity and not just an afterthought. It requires a total commitment by school and district leaders, and this commitment must include investing in the tools and training needed to help educators effectively engage with families from all backgrounds. It must be a real and intentional focus, and as Mapp says: “It’s real when I see it on your budget sheets.”

2. Teachers and Administrators Must Communicate Clearly and Consistently

To encourage family involvement in their children’s education, educators must interact with families frequently—and in many ways. For instance, teachers and administrators might engage with families in person during school drop-off and pick-up periods, set up a Family Information Board in the school’s lobby, write and distribute regular newsletters or blog posts, and/or send emails or text messages to parents.

Communicating effectively is one of the National PTA’s “National Standards for Family-School Partnerships,” which guides how schools and families should work together to support student success. Teachers and administrators should learn about and meet families’ preferred methods of communication, and families should be able to share and receive information in culturally and linguistically relevant ways.

3. Develop Healthy, Positive Relationships Based on Mutual Trust and Respect

Interactions between educators and families should be positive and reciprocal, with families feeling valued and supported. Educators can establish trust and encourage healthy, two-way communications with families by sharing information about their children’s positive behaviors and accomplishments and which skills may need work. Listen to all parents and provide opportunities for shared decision-making.

4. Be Mindful of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Welcoming all families and fostering a sense of belonging is another National PTA standard. When families engage with your school, do they feel respected, understood, and connected to the school community?

To ensure equity and inclusion, learn about the families you serve and their unique needs and challenges. Use culturally responsive engagement practices. Create opportunities for connection, especially with historically marginalized families and students. Learn about and seek to remove barriers for families to participate fully in their children’s education.

5. Help Families Support and Extend the Learning at Home

Students learn more effectively when they have opportunities at home to practice, reinforce, or extend the skills and lessons they’ve learned in school. Educators can facilitate this process by giving families specific ideas for expanding their children’s learning at home, such as by incorporating core math and literacy concepts into everyday routines.

Schools can also make instructional resources such as take-home packs, activity sets, and other materials available to families to support their children’s education.

How School Specialty® Can Help

School Specialty has more than six decades of experience in providing tools, resources, and strategies that promote successful education both in school and at home. We offer arts and crafts, early childhood, ELA, math, science, STEM/STEAM, physical education, special needs, and social emotional learning resources for families, as well as games, puzzles, and general supplies.

How do you promote family engagement in your classroom and community? Let us know in the comments!



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Preteens and skincare: What parents should know – CHOC

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Published on: April 16, 2024
Last updated: April 9, 2024

Should teens and preteens be using so many skincare products with fancy ingredients? A pediatric dermatologist answers parents’ questions.

Link: https://health.choc.org/preteens-and-skincare-what-parents-should-know/

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