If you’re anything like me (and let’s hope for your sakes you’re not), being aware really takes a lot out of you. With ‘aware’ having synonyms like ‘cognizant,’ ‘mindful,’ ‘wide-awake,’ ‘vigilant,’ and ‘wary’ (I took ‘conscious’ alright–I’m pretty sure I’ve got that pegged), expecting me to be ‘aware’ for any length of time seems to be asking a lot.
So I was going through life, not vigilant, for sure, but ‘alert’ (another synonym)-at least most of the time–until I ran into the 2013 Health Observance and Recognition Calendar Days. Look–I already provided you the link–you really must go take a look. Because you may have thought that you were ‘watchful,’ but I bet for years you’ve failed to notice Root Canal Awareness Week (May 17-23), Medical Transcriptionist Week (May 19-25), Health Care Recruiter Recognition Day–anyone?–June 4; I bet few have properly been mindful of School Backpack Awareness Day (September 18) and I’m pretty skeptical that an appropriate number of people have been vigilant when it comes to a personal favorite in our household, what’s known as Time Out Day, June 12, which–I am not making this up–“emphasizes the importance of surgical teams taking a “time out” to confirm vital patient information before beginning every invasive procedure.” That’s right–I’m all for a day that encourages surgeons to find out if I’m actually the one who’s supposed to be in surgery or if it is my 87-year-old roommate, to determine if I’m keeping my uterus–or finally throwing in the towel on the thing, to make absolutely certain that it’s the right side that’s problematic–so they should probably do their business there.
Be that all as it may, there were two weeks asking for my attention that I felt I really should summon up mindfulness for, and, if you haven’t spent all your intentness elsewhere, perhaps you’d join me. It’s a bit of a challenge, because they’re both the same week, May 12-18, but I think we should all give it a try.
National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week
When it comes to anxiety and depression, there are a few things it’s definitely worth being mindful of.
- Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., and they affect nearly 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population) (Anxiety & Depression Association of America).
- Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
- Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country’s $148 billion total mental health bill, according to “The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders,” a study commissioned by ADAA (The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry,60(7), July 1999).
According to the National Institute of Mental Health:
- Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44.
- Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
- Of course it can develop at any age–but the median age of onset is 32.
- The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill tells us that depression affects more than 6.5 million of the 35 million Americans aged 65 years or older.
- The New York Times, which always teaches me something, made me cognizant of the fact that researchers report nearly 60 percent of the people in treatment do not receive adequate care.
- Breaking down the stats reveals in any given one-year period, 13 million to 14 million people, about 6.6 percent of the nation, experience the illness.
- I further learned that, although I was quite interested in stats on ECT, no one keeps them. ECT.org attempts to clarify the situation with this obfuscating information: “Only a handful of US states require reporting, and many other countries either do not collect data at all, or do so partially.” Illuminating.
Note that you won’t find any such lack of knowledge when it comes to Awareness Day # 2 You ready? It really doesn’t take much vigilance at all–I’ll walk you through.
National Women’s Health Week
My source (which I’ve now shared with you) explains the week, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, “brings together communities, businesses, government, health organizations, and other groups in an effort to promote women’s health.. . .[It] empowers women to make their health a priority. It also encourages them to take steps to improve their physical and mental health and lower their risks of certain diseases.”
You’re ready to be aware about this one, too [although I notice the word ‘aware’ does not appear here, so maybe the bar is lower for women], but not quite sure where to start?
Interestingly, in a Web search, I couldn’t find a whole lot of practical information about how women were supposed to take those steps to improve their health and lower their risks.
What to do.
Well, one way is just becoming. . .well, aware of women’s health status as it is–and, given that there’s little I love more than an infographic that expresses what I need to know in picture form, you could just hit the link to this infographic, entitled “The Affordable Care Act: Addressing the Unique Health Needs of Women.” Done in pink (where’s my 3-year-old-neice when you need her?), it’s got a truly odd assortment of facts (did you know only 16% of moms exclusively breastfeed at 6 months?). I wasn’t aware of them before, and now I am, so there’s getting on the bandwagon for you.
Another is being sure you know all the preventive services women are supposed to have (even though it’s overwhelming, and some are rather on the unpleasant side). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration put out a table entitled, “Women’s Preventive Services: Required Health Plan Coverage Guidelines Supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration,” which, obviously, doesn’t just list what you need–but assures you that it’s covered, too. There are services there you might never have known were covered, such as Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling, and Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence.
Finally, womenshealth.gov, a project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, really runs the show, so you really want to get yourself and your attentiveness over there. They’ve got an interactive chart about preventive screenings, offer a free on-line publication entitled Women’s Mental Health: What It Means to You, have a link to a Statement by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius,
And, best of all, the site concludes with 5 things women can do to celebrate the week (example: Discussing with their health care professionals which screenings and tests are right for them and when and how often they should have them).
Not one of them is hard, although of them take some level of consciousness.
But if you read an info graphic, or contact your doctor or find out about preventative services covered by your health plan, you should be pretty proud of yourself. You have celebrated Women’s Health Week with full awareness. Way to go.