October has been observed as Talk About Your Medicines Month (TAYMM) for 35 years. Started by the BeMedWise Program at NeedyMeds (formerly known as the National Council on Patient Information [NCPIE]), the awareness month is an annual opportunity to spotlight safe medicine use with the goal of improved health outcomes. This year’s theme is Medication Adherence – On Track With Your Meds and Your Health. Medication adherence is a vital part of maintaining your health. Our goal is to empower patients to maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks of the medications they are taking, and provide the tools they need to talk about their medicines.

Medication adherence has been called America’s “other drug problem.” Nonadherence can lead to illness progression, severe complications, and preventable deaths. Nonadherence includes anything from delaying or not filling a prescription, skipping doses, splitting pills, to stopping a medication early. Not taking medication as directed can lead to poor health outcomes which then increases healthcare service utilization and overall healthcare costs.

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Vaccines are a vital part of healthcare at all stages of life and offer the best protection available against many potentially devastating illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages parents to follow an immunization schedule for babies and young children, protecting them from 14 life-affecting diseases. Pre-teens and teenagers should begin to innoculate against meningococcal diseases (meningitis or septicemia) and HPV (Human Papillomavirus, which can lead to cancer). Adults should continue to protect themselves with a yearly flu shot, tetanus updates, and later in life the shingles vaccine and the pneumonia vaccine.

An important element of immunization awareness is to protect our populations through “herd immunity” — when a high percentage of a population is vaccinated to protect individuals who have not developed an immunity. Babies are protected by their mother’s immune system at birth and continue to be passed antibodies from their mother’s

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Black lives are being lost to COVID-19 at twice the rate of others. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes compared white women. Black children are more than three times more likely to die after surgery than white children. Black people are 3.23 times more likely to die at the hands of the police than white people. The Black Lives Matter movement protests against the destructive devaluing of Black lives at the hands of law enforcement and other racially-motivated violence; it is equally clear that Black lives need to be more valued in terms of the healthcare they have access to and receive.

By nearly any measure, Black people suffer disproportionately in America. They face countless challenges to good health, among them food, transportation, and income. Healthcare services are often more expensive, with over 30% of medical expenses faced by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) being associated with health inequities. The stress of living life inescapably affected by racism has very real effects on a person’s physical and mental health

Black

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In 2019, there were 39,457 deaths in the United States involving guns; 24,090 were suicides. This is an increase of 3% more people killed with guns than the previous year and is within 320 deaths of the highest the death toll has been (2017) since gun mortality data was first recorded in 1979. Mass shootings, incidents where four or more people are shot, also increased year over year

Gun violence is a public health crisis in the United States. The price of lives lost and the consequences for the victims’ families, friends, and communities is truly immeasurable. The economic cost, however, can be measured: $229 billion every year; $12.8 million every day. These costs include medical treatment, long-term medical and disability expenses, mental healthcare, emergency services, legal fees, long-term prison costs, police investigations, and security enhancements. Even students and teachers who participate in active shooter drills can experience profound mental or emotional distress.

Gun violence appears to be a unique problem to the United States among countries not in open warfare or deeply

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Photo by Dan Meyers

Everyone has stress and difficult emotions on occasion, and this is completely normal. Mental illness, however, is any condition that makes it difficult to function in daily life. It can affect relationships or job performance, and is caused by any number of complex interactions within the human brain. Mental illness can range from anxiety to mood disorders like depression, psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, eating disorders, or addictive behaviors.

Studies have shown the economic costs of untreated mood and anxiety disorders among moms exceeds $14 billion dollars through the first five years of a child’s life alone, and fewer adults experiencing psychological distress are being treated by a mental health professional. Of those reporting foregoing mental health care, 13% said they could not afford the cost of care, 12% reported that their insurance would not cover it, 10% indicated that fear or embarrassment kept them from seeking care, and 8% reported that they did not know where to get care.

The United States is facing a growing

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