Thanks everyone!  Feel free to let me know which public health news stories, articles, studies, and rants you would like to see featured on this blog!

Thanks everyone!  Feel free to let me know which public health news stories, articles, studies, and rants you would like to see featured on this blog!

Why Are Gay Teens Nearly Six Times More Likely To Use Steroids?


“… Out of a sample of 17,000 American teenagers, nearly six times as many gay and bisexual boys had used steroids as their straight counterparts. … Gay men … were more likely than straight men to suffer from eating disorders and to be dissatisfied with their bodies. Eating disorders, in turn, were associated with depression, anxiety, internalized homophobia, substance abuse and the desire to gain muscle.
… On one side, a majority heterosexual culture pushes gay men to fit in and project a masculine image to avoid negative stereotypes of effeminacy and weakness. It is telling, he thinks, that gay men who feel worse about being gay are more likely to want to be muscular.”



I hope this research inspires work that addresses this narrow view of masculinity, the importance of interrogating patriarchy, the need to dismantle internalized homophobia, and how we can work to develop healthy body image and sense of self among all young people.  In fewer words, I hope the watered down message making it to high school locker rooms does not continue to be: “Don’t use steroids. They’re bad for your balls.”

Why Are Gay Teens Nearly Six Times More Likely To Use Steroids?

“… Out of a sample of 17,000 American teenagers, nearly six times as many gay and bisexual boys had used steroids as their straight counterparts. … Gay men … were more likely than straight men to suffer from eating disorders and to be dissatisfied with their bodies. Eating disorders, in turn, were associated with depression, anxiety, internalized homophobia, substance abuse and the desire to gain muscle.

… On one side, a majority heterosexual culture pushes gay men to fit in and project a masculine image to avoid negative stereotypes of effeminacy and weakness. It is telling, he thinks, that gay men who feel worse about being gay are more likely to want to be muscular.”

I hope this research inspires work that addresses this narrow view of masculinity, the importance of interrogating patriarchy, the need to dismantle internalized homophobia, and how we can work to develop healthy body image and sense of self among all young people.  In fewer words, I hope the watered down message making it to high school locker rooms does not continue to be: “Don’t use steroids. They’re bad for your balls.”

Mary Lambert - Body Love

You are worth more than a waistline
You are worth more than beer bottles displayed like drunken artifacts.
You are worth more than any naked body could proclaim in the shadows,
More than a man’s whim or your father’s mistake
You are no less valuable as a size 16 than a size 4
You are no less valuable as a 32a than a 36c

Some body positivity for y’all today.

Best Headline Ever: “Ground-Breaking Research Shows that ‘Housing First’ Approach Working to End Homelessness”

New landmark research findings were released today by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) that underscore the clear effectiveness of the ‘Housing First’ approach to ending homelessness amongst people with mental illness. The research was released at an event that featured the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development) and Canada’s mental health leaders.
"At Home/Chez Soi shows us that this approach works in Canada. A house is so much more than a roof over one’s head. It represents dignity, security, and, above all, hope," said Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. "We are proud to collaborate with our valued partners to lead this work. These kinds of bold solutions are the hallmark of our mandate."
“Providing permanent, secure housing,” she added, “does more than keep a person off the streets and out of shelters, it provides a base from which to move forward. It creates hope where none existed. That’s the import of Housing First.”
At Home/Chez Soiwas created in 2008 thanks to a $110 million investment from the Government of Canada. Demonstration sites included Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montréal, and Moncton, and involved more than 2,000 Canadians with mental illness experiencing homelessness. Key findings from the study include:   
Demonstrated housing stability for program participants in all regions of the country over a two-year period;
Program effectiveness for people from diverse ethno-cultural backgrounds and circumstances;
For highest service users, Housing First has proven particularly cost-effective with every $10 invested resulting in cost-savings of $21.72.

This headline is golden.  Let’s hope the recommendations get taken up by government!

Best Headline Ever: “Ground-Breaking Research Shows that ‘Housing First’ Approach Working to End Homelessness”

New landmark research findings were released today by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) that underscore the clear effectiveness of the ‘Housing First’ approach to ending homelessness amongst people with mental illness. The research was released at an event that featured the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development) and Canada’s mental health leaders.

"At Home/Chez Soi shows us that this approach works in Canada. A house is so much more than a roof over one’s head. It represents dignity, security, and, above all, hope," said Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. "We are proud to collaborate with our valued partners to lead this work. These kinds of bold solutions are the hallmark of our mandate."

“Providing permanent, secure housing,” she added, “does more than keep a person off the streets and out of shelters, it provides a base from which to move forward. It creates hope where none existed. That’s the import of Housing First.”

At Home/Chez Soiwas created in 2008 thanks to a $110 million investment from the Government of Canada. Demonstration sites included Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montréal, and Moncton, and involved more than 2,000 Canadians with mental illness experiencing homelessness. Key findings from the study include:   

  • Demonstrated housing stability for program participants in all regions of the country over a two-year period;
  • Program effectiveness for people from diverse ethno-cultural backgrounds and circumstances;
  • For highest service users, Housing First has proven particularly cost-effective with every $10 invested resulting in cost-savings of $21.72.

This headline is golden.  Let’s hope the recommendations get taken up by government!

Protect Yourself and Others (Before You Wreck Yourself and Others).

Protect Yourself and Others (Before You Wreck Yourself and Others).

I’m Breaking Up With the Word ‘Addict’ and I Hope You’ll Do the Same

"I may be in the fight of my life with drugs, but I am not the drugs that I take. I am a fighter, a survivor — I am never merely "an addict." Please do not destroy the totality of who I am by reducing me to that one word. We retain our full humanity despite our challenges, particularly when our challenges are much deeper than our attention-grabbing drug use might suggest. My days of chaotic substance abuse are long behind me. I am not “an addict” now, and I wasn’t “an addict” then. I’m just a person, who had a period of difficulty, pain and challenge. I battled, I failed, I tried again — just like most people. Why not try using any of the following as alternatives to calling someone “an addict”: person dependent on drugs; people struggling with drugs; person in recovery from addiction. The use of person-centric language may seem inconsequential, but I assure you, it is not. It is vitally important to scores of people, most of whom you’ve never met and never will. They are the people who, in the eyes of the world, are lumped into that “other” category you’ve created for them by calling them “an addict.”

Person-centered language, y’all.

I’m Breaking Up With the Word ‘Addict’ and I Hope You’ll Do the Same

"I may be in the fight of my life with drugs, but I am not the drugs that I take. I am a fighter, a survivor — I am never merely "an addict." Please do not destroy the totality of who I am by reducing me to that one word. We retain our full humanity despite our challenges, particularly when our challenges are much deeper than our attention-grabbing drug use might suggest.

My days of chaotic substance abuse are long behind me. I am not “an addict” now, and I wasn’t “an addict” then. I’m just a person, who had a period of difficulty, pain and challenge. I battled, I failed, I tried again — just like most people.

Why not try using any of the following as alternatives to calling someone “an addict”: person dependent on drugs; people struggling with drugs; person in recovery from addiction. The use of person-centric language may seem inconsequential, but I assure you, it is not. It is vitally important to scores of people, most of whom you’ve never met and never will. They are the people who, in the eyes of the world, are lumped into that “other” category you’ve created for them by calling them “an addict.”

Person-centered language, y’all.

I felt that no boy should have to depend either for his leg or his life upon the ability of his parents to raise enough money to bring a first-class surgeon to his bedside.

And I think it was out of this experience, not at the moment consciously, but through the years, I came to believe that Health services ought not to have a price-tag on them, and that people should be able to get whatever health services they required irrespective of their individual capacity to pay

Let’s fight that stigma!

(Source: upworthy.com)

Psychiatric community care: Belgian town sets gold standard

Hundreds of families in Geel take in psychiatric patients; people who suffer from schizophrenia, from obsessive compulsive disorder, serious mental illnesses. About half  of  “the boarders” as they are known, also have what is described as “a mild mental handicap.” 
Families in Geel have been looking after mentally ill people for centuries. When the numbers were at their highest in the late 1930s, there were 3,800 psychiatric patients living with families inGeel, a town at the time of only 15,000. A quarter of the town was noticeably mentally ill.
​“They are part of the family – we love them,” she says.

Listen to the radio documentary “You Belong in Geel” here.

Psychiatric community care: Belgian town sets gold standard

Hundreds of families in Geel take in psychiatric patients; people who suffer from schizophrenia, from obsessive compulsive disorder, serious mental illnesses. About half  of  “the boarders” as they are known, also have what is described as “a mild mental handicap.” 

Families in Geel have been looking after mentally ill people for centuries. When the numbers were at their highest in the late 1930s, there were 3,800 psychiatric patients living with families inGeel, a town at the time of only 15,000. A quarter of the town was noticeably mentally ill.

​“They are part of the family – we love them,” she says.

Listen to the radio documentary “You Belong in Geel” here.

Old Like Me: Why Elderly Care Needs More Risk

The fundamental principle laid out at the beginning of The Long-Term Care Act, 2007, in Ontario is that a long-term care facility “is primarily the home of its residents and is to be operated so that it is a place where its residents may live with dignity and in security, safety and comfort.” Then follows a dizzying list of regulations that would imply anything but. For example, nutritional care specifies congregate dining settings monitored during the entire meal, specific positioning, appropriate height of seating and meal times. There are 480 safety standards that homes must monitor daily.
At my home, I’ve spent more meals than I care to remember seated on my bed, alone, with my laptop in front of me. While that may not be ‘safe,’ it is my decision.
After all, we take these calculated risks every day: slicing bread, crossing the street, staying up late. Suddenly being regarded as unable to make decisions you’ve made all your life contributes to a feeling of disempowerment. In our attempt to remove all risk in nursing homes we have ended up with regulations that are so extreme that residents may no longer have autonomy or feel at home.

Old Like Me: Why Elderly Care Needs More Risk

The fundamental principle laid out at the beginning of The Long-Term Care Act, 2007, in Ontario is that a long-term care facility “is primarily the home of its residents and is to be operated so that it is a place where its residents may live with dignity and in security, safety and comfort.” Then follows a dizzying list of regulations that would imply anything but. For example, nutritional care specifies congregate dining settings monitored during the entire meal, specific positioning, appropriate height of seating and meal times. There are 480 safety standards that homes must monitor daily.

At my home, I’ve spent more meals than I care to remember seated on my bed, alone, with my laptop in front of me. While that may not be ‘safe,’ it is my decision.

After all, we take these calculated risks every day: slicing bread, crossing the street, staying up late. Suddenly being regarded as unable to make decisions you’ve made all your life contributes to a feeling of disempowerment. In our attempt to remove all risk in nursing homes we have ended up with regulations that are so extreme that residents may no longer have autonomy or feel at home.