CONTENT WARNING: This blog discusses rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Since 2001, April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Over the past year and half, the #MeToo movement has grown to bring sexual violence, abuse, and toxic behavior into the forefront of American culture, but there is still much misinformation and stigma to combat to ensure the health and safety of everyone affected. Rape is the most under-reported crime, with 63% of sexual assaults not being reported to police. Despite misconceptions, the prevalence of false reporting is low — between 2-7%. The consequences of sexual assault reach far into the lives of survivors, families, and communities and have a major effect on public health.

Victims of sexual harassment and assault are often thought of as women, but men can also be affected. Statistically, one in five women and one in 67 men are raped at some point in their lives. Nearly 50% of women and 20% of men experience sexual violence other than rape.

Vulnerable communities are disproportionately affected by sexual violence:

  • 44% of lesbains and 61% of bisexual women compared to 35% of heterosexual women;
  • 40% of gay men and 47% of bisexual men compared to 21% of heterosexual men;
  • 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.

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The last week of March has been LGBT Health Awareness Week since 2003. We have explored some of the barriers to healthcare for the transgender community in previous blog posts, but it remains important to bring awareness to the unique healthcare needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and the health disparities that continue to affect the lives of so many Americans.

Experts report that LGBT people often avoid seeking out medical care or refrain from “coming out” to their healthcare provider. This compromises an entire community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals who are at increased risk for several health threats when compared to heterosexual or cisgender peer groups: Gay men are at higher risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; lesbians are less likely to get cancer screenings; transgender individuals are among the least likely to have health insurance along with risks from hormone replacement and atypical cancers. Even as youths, LGBT people are at higher risk of violence, depression, substance abuse, homelessness, and other suicide-related behaviors.

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There’s no better time than right now to invest in your health. Odds are you do it every day — even if you don’t know that’s what you’re doing.

From taking over-the-counter (OTC) medication for headaches, to setting weight loss goals or wearing a fitness tracker, most of us practice self-care every day without realizing it. New research from BeMedWise details just how common self-care is.

Among the report’s 2,000+ survey respondents:

  • 92% desire more control over their health
  • 89% say they know where to find answers to health questions or concerns
  • 80% feel the need to manage their health now more than ever before
  • 88% express confidence in making their own health decisions

The full report, titled “Empowering Americans to Take Greater Responsibility for Their Health,” examines how self-care can improve an individual’s health while also reducing medical costs.

It comes at a time where 6 in 10 U.S. adults are living with a chronic disease. Chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression together account for 90% of our $3.3 trillion healthcare budget.

However, the U.S. economy could save an estimated $6.6 billion if just 10% of those with a chronic disease adopted self-care practices.

Below, we’ll describe what self-care is and why it’s having a hard time catching on. Then we’ll send you off 

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For over 25 years, the first full week of October has been Mental Illness Awareness Week. One in five, or 20% of the population, live with some kind of mental health condition, with one in 25 living with a serious mental illness that substantially limits one’s life activities. Those living with mental illness fight stigma while trying to survive under internal duress. Awareness is important so that resources are made available to those who need them and the stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental illnesses can be reduced.

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 or mood disorders like depression, psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, to eating disorders or addictive behaviors.

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world and includes 16 million American adults living with major depression.

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Are you a caregiver or provider for a family member, friend, or patient? Do you help to take care of another person in need, including an ill spouse or an aging relative? Caregivers act as both healthcare provider and advocate for the person in their charge, and can be a financial resource when savings and social security are not an option. There are over 45 million caregivers in the United States, and there are resources available to help them fulfill their needs as they take on the care of others.

Whether you are taking care of the young or elderly; the ill, injured, or disabled; the difficulty of the work, while rewarding, can be draining. Respite care services (outlined here by StuffSeniorsNeed.com) can help allay the exhaustion and give a well-deserved break to caregivers. In 2009, the Lifespan Respite Care Program was authorized by Congress and has since been implemented in 37 states. Funded by federal grants from the Administration for Community Living and the Administration on Aging, the program has expanded access to respite care for caregivers of patients of all ages.

Caregivers of veterans are eligible for support from

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