By Anjali Oberoi
A man on the Madrid Metro with a toddler on his lap shifted, listening to the unfamiliar dialect as I recounted the events of my week to my mom over the phone in whispered Hindi. When the train entered the station, he shot me a glare before standing up to leave. As he rushed past me he pulled his toddler tightly closer to his chest. I don’t look like a Spaniard.
His marked disapproval reflects a shift throughout Europe as humanitarian crisis sweeps the continent. The world currently faces the largest refugee crisis since World War II, as conflicts around the globe continue and worsen1. (more…)
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by Samantha Woo
As I was scrolling up and down my newsfeed on Facebook to distract myself from all the work I had on my plate, this Buzzfeed article caught my eye: 19 Picture That Sum Up How Absolutely Ridiculous It Is Finding a Job.
Another silly Buzzfeed article, yes, but it was just enough to make me forget how stressed I was in my job/grad school application process. A little mental break was all I needed between being a DI athlete, having a social life, working multiple jobs and internships, schoolwork, and applying to graduate schools and jobs. Nowadays I seem to be juggling a lot and it reminded me a lot of a story I came across in the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/ 08/02/education/edlife/stress- social-media-and-suicide-on- campus.html?_r=0
) talking about the mental health situation on campus at the University of Pennsylvania and the suicide of a smart and beautiful track star, Madison Holleran. Outwardly she had what kids at Penn described as PennFace, the idea that even if you’re struggling or stressed, you put on a positive façade so no one can see that you’re struggling on the inside. By looking at Madison’s social media accounts, news outlets said you wouldn’t have been able to tell she was depressed or having any issues at all. A student the NYT article interviewed justified it by saying, “Nobody wants to be the one struggling while everyone else is doing great. Despite whatever’s going on — if you’re stressed, a bit depressed, if you’re overwhelmed — you want to put up this positive front”. I believe that in our society today there is a greater pressure on students and people of our generation to go the best colleges, to go to graduate school, to get the best jobs and to work to achieve perfection, but that isn’t realistic. With this growing pressure, the mental health issue needs to be better addressed, or else people end up coping in unhealthy ways and like Madison, could turn to suicide – and that’s just the reality of it all. Although Penn has started to take steps towards providing more services to students, it needs to be recognized that this isn’t just an issue on their campus. My high school finally has broached the subject of mental health and actually just started taking steps towards a new approach to combat the mental health issues we’ve had in our town, but personally, I’m not convinced that it’s been the best approach to the situation at hand (http://www.nj.com/mercer/ index.ssf/2015/10/high_levels_ of_stress_in_students_lead_to_ district.html
). What they have decided to do is cut back on midterm and final exams and they’ve started to implement no homework days. I like the idea of the whole-child approach that they mention: “focusing on the social, emotional and academic development of students”, but I think that cutting back on exams, cutting gifted and talented classes, and creating these no homework days is setting students up for failure. I believe that these students will not be fully prepared for the real world and I think this is why it has a created an uproar among parents within the school district and has even gotten the attention of those at the NY Times whose article tried to paint the issue into a race problem and an issue of “tiger moms” or over-bearing parents, but that’s not really how I see it and I know other WW-P graduates would agree with me. I look back on my academic past and I think about how grateful I am for having been part of a top-tiered school district. My schedule was full of band and orchestra concerts, rowing competitions and practices, EMT shifts, as well as schoolwork. All of this made transitioning to Boston University for undergrad simple and smooth. I even recall my AP Bio class in high school being more difficult than the Bio class I had taken my freshman year in college. Being part of such a competitive high school atmosphere gave me the motivation to work harder and although sometimes I was overwhelmed and sometimes it felt like the world was going to end, it was never anything unmanageable and it had given me methods and tools to succeed. I also always had a support system of my friends and family by my side which psychologists would define as a protective factor against developing mental health disorders. An important thing to note is that not everyone is as lucky as me, which brings us back to my main point: the mental health stigma needs to be lifted and the issue needs to be put at the forefront of everyone’s agenda right now especially since depressive disorders are predicted, by the WHO, to be the largest contributor to global disease burden by 2030. People in general need to feel comfortable to reach out for help and mental needs to be a bigger conversation that is being held right now because not enough attention is being given to the issue.
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By Mahra Weber
We’re all familiar with the phrase “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere”. It’s an anthem, calling for adults to unwind and reward themselves after a long day at work. Drinking alcohol is a prominent social component of many cultures. However, anything in excess usually produces bad results. In a recent Reuters article titled “Alcohol-linked deaths a problem for the Americas”, alcohol is discussed as a cause of many premature deaths in the US, Canada, and areas of Central America and South America. In the US, where the legal drinking age is 21 years of age, there is an emphasis on the dangers of underage drinking. The article takes a different view, emphasizing the effects of many years of drinking throughout life. Years of excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver failure, gastric problems, and neurotoxicity. (more…)
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-By Vidya Attaluri
About nine years ago I was introduced to and learned more about the concept of euthanasia after seeing it portrayed on a television show I was watching. As a young teen I had what may be an unexpected reaction in full support of the concept of euthanasia for those who are terminally ill and have full understanding of what their decision to participate in euthanasia means for both them and their loved ones. But how do you determine who is mature enough to make this decision? Should there be an age limit on who can participate or what illnesses can be considered to require euthanasia? Who gets to decide these things?
In a groundbreaking decision on February 13th, 2014 Belgium became the first country in the world to allow euthanasia for incurably ill children. I learned about the impactful new law through an article in the New York Times, “Belgium Close to Allowing Euthanasia for Ill Minors” by Dan Bilefsky. This article discussed the new law as well as the criticisms and reactions that followed its adoption. The law states that euthanasia would be allowed for terminally ill children that are close to death, experiencing “constant and unbearable suffering” and show a “capacity of discernment,” which would mean they understand the consequences of the decision to participate in euthanasia, as well as written consent from a legal guardian (Bilefsky, Year). In Europe, as compared to the United States, euthanasia has been a more widely accepted idea. Currently in the United States, as of January of 2014, euthanasia is banned nationwide but assisted dying, doctors prescribing a lethal dose of medication to terminally ill patients, is legal in Oregon, Washington, Montana, New Mexico, and Vermont. In Europe euthanasia is legal in The Netherlands, Luxembourg and in Switzerland assisted dying is legal. (more…)
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-By Babi Bose
Since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, nearly 2.5 million people have fled Syria to seek safety elsewhere. Many have relocated to Syria’s bordering countries: Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon. The quality of life in the refugee camps varies from location to location. In one camp in Kilis, Turkey, residents have to scan their fingerprints for entry, sanitation problems are nonexistent, schools have been established, and electricity is present (New York Times, 2014). Unfortunately, this is not the case with most refugee camps. As more people flee with each passing day the problems within refugee camps become more severe. Overcrowding has amplified sanitation problems contributing to the resurgence of once-rare diseases. In addition to rampant malnutrition, diseases like polio and measles have reemerged, and there have been outbreaks of tuberculosis, typhoid, hepatitis and dysentery (The New York Review of Books, 2014). However, it is not just the physical ailments of Syrian refugees that merit our attention. The need for mental health care among Syrian refugees is greater than ever, as many people struggle to cope with the overwhelming reality inflicted by the Syrian Civil War. It is truly an invisible crisis affecting an enormous amount of people. (more…)
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-By Natalia Lopez
When the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health, it made sure to include mental health. WHO defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.” However, most public health measures focus on physical health—eating well, exercising, ensuring having a healthy heart and cholesterol levels, etc. Mental health is just as important as physical health and Americans are suffering from mental illnesses more than ever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in ten Americans report having some form of depression (or unipolar depression as it is sometimes referred to) (2011a). This statistic rings very true as I am one of those Americans that has suffered from the disease for the last four years. Moreover, Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, stated how 46% of Americans fit a diagnosis for one form of mental illness. Recently, the Lancet published a study that found that mental disorders and substance abuse combined were the leading causes of non-fatal illness worldwide in 2010 (Mercola, 2013). In other words, these contributed to nearly a quarter of the total global disease burden. In addition, this study found that mental illnesses were the fifth leading cause of death and disease worldwide. In all, mental disorders and substance use disorders were responsible for higher global death and illness rates than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, diabetes, and car accidents (Mercola, 2013). (more…)
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By Lauren Fisher
According to the Washington Post, “prescription painkillers grease a slippery slope toward a relapse for former heroin addicts.” The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman is perhaps one of the most viral news stories of 2014 thus far, and indeed appears to be a case in point. I will be the first to admit that I initially had no remorse for the late actor, known for his former heroin use and found dead with a needle still in his arm. Despite inconclusive toxicology results, I assumed that like many other celebrities, Hoffman simply partied much too hard, leaving disheveled and mourning loved ones behind to deal with the aftermath of his actions.
As investigations ensued, more and more information regarding Hoffman’s incessant drug use surfaced. It was revealed that the actor, 46, had been taking prescription opioids, which include the addictive drugs OxyCotin, Vicoden, and Percocet. Hoffman then again turned to heroin – much cheaper than a pharmaceutical – typically $10 a packet for heroin compared with nearly $80 on the street for an 80-milligram of OxyCotin. These behaviors reflect those of a true addict, and so my initial callousness to the case morphed into sympathy. Though others tend to disagree, I believe addiction is a disease. Those individuals suffering must be provided help – medical, legal, and emotional – in order to live a healthy, normal life. If not tended to adequately, disease often results in death, yet common mental health diseases such as addiction are often stigmatized and overlooked. (more…)
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