Category: Mental Health

Healthy and Safe Travels this Holiday Season

We are in the beginning of the holiday season in the United States and throughout the world. Many people travel to visit family during these months, including some who may be traveling with a chronic illness — all of which have added complications due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We at NeedyMeds have some tips for healthy travel over the holidays along with suggestions for staying safe and mitigating the spread of coronavirus.

  • Getting fully vaccinated and/or receiving boosters of available COVID-19 vaccines is the best way to protect yourself from infection while travelling. Be sure to bring your vaccination record card or other form of proof of vaccination for venues/services that require it.
  • Wear a mask in public spaces — even if fully vaccinated​.
  • Consider any special health needs for children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, chronic illness, or weakened immune systems. It may be best to get tested for COVID-19 before visiting anyone at risk of severe complications — even if fully vaccinated.
  • Learn the health implications of your destination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the information you may need. If you are traveling abroad, the CDC has a resource to see what inoculations are required and other things to keep in mind about different destinations.
  • Bring all your medications. Keep your medications in the original, labelled bottles. Keep the medicine in your carry-on luggage and never pack your pills in a suitcase you plan to check.
  • If you are flying, give yourself enough time to make it through parking, security, and other lines. Be prepared and patient when encountering delays in travel.
  • If you are driving, plan your route ahead of time and pack a GPS, smart phone, or up-to-date road maps as a backup. Remember to get out of the car to stretch and get fresh air periodically.
  • Wash/sanitize your hands often, no matter how you are travelling. Keeping your hands clean is an important step to avoiding sickness and spreading illnesses, especially while travelling or preparing food.
  • Sleep well the night before travel. While anticipation and excitement can make restful sleep difficult, being prepared for changing time zones and alert for the journey are essential.
  • Eat well before hitting the road. A wholesome diet not only keeps one’s immune system in fighting shape and gives ample energy for the trip ahead, but it will help travelers avoid expensive and unhealthy junk food.
  • If you have a chronic illness, doctors recommend taking a health history information sheet (HHIS) that includes diagnosis, physician and emergency contact information, medications and dosages info. Travelers should bring a copy of all prescriptions along with their medication in its original packaging. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has guidelines for passengers with disabilities and other health conditions to avoid delays or complications if traveling by air. A medic alert bracelet or first aid kit may also ease the mind of those worried about managing their illness abroad.

The holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy being with loved ones, but they are not without their demands. Physical, emotional, and mental stress can accompany the holiday joy and can make everything a little harder for those already experiencing difficulties with their health. We at NeedyMeds have a few more tips for staying healthy during the holiday season:

  • Stay warm. The holiday season brings winter to much of the United States and cold temperatures can cause health problems, especially the very young and elderly adults. Stay dry and dress warmly in several layers.
  • Eat healthy & stay active. Holidays are often times of hearty meals followed by sweet desserts, but it is important to keep a balanced diet. Don’t skip out on fruits and vegetables at family dinners, and try not to be weighed down by the “food coma” — get out and be active.

The holidays can be stressful; familial obligations, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and even less sunlight can contribute to the deterioration of mental health. It is important to balance commitments,

Read more

Mental Illness Awareness Relieves Stigma

For over 30 years, the first full week of October has been Mental Illness Awareness Week. This year, the NeedyMeds blog has observed Mental Health Month in May, Minority Mental Health Month in July, and Suicide Prevention Month in September. We’ve discussed how everyone’s mental health matters, the unique factors affecting mental health for vulnerable populations, and how to prevent devastating outcomes, but we have not yet touched on the realities of mental illness in 2021.

Twenty percent of the population — as many as 65.6 million Americans — live with some kind of mental health condition, with nearly 5% living with a serious mental illness that substantially limits their life activities. Those living with mental illness fight stigma while trying to survive under profound internal duress. Awareness is important to ensure 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

Read more

How to Save a Life: Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. Each year over 45,000 people in America die by suicide — a rate that has increased 41% since 1999. Mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, but 54% of those who commit suicide do not have a known mental illness

Suicide is rarely caused by a single factor, and is also affected by personal relationships, substance use, physical health, and stress from jobs, money, legal issues, and/or housing. The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued systemic injustices have also had a chilling effect on Americans’ mental wellbeing. Awareness is important to end the stigma of suicidal feelings and help more people access life-saving help in dark times.

Anyone can have suicidal thoughts, but it is important to know they are not permanent. Having suicidal thoughts is not a sign of weakness or failure, but is a symptom of profound distress. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors can be very damaging and dangerous and should be considered a psychiatric emergency. 

Other than mental illness, there are a number of risk factors for suicide:

  • A family history of suicide;
  • Substance abuse — using drugs and alcohol results in mental/emotional highs and lows that can exacerbate suicidal thoughts;
  • Intoxication — more than a third of people who die from suicide are under the influence at the time;
  • Access to firearms;
  • A serious or chronic medical illness;
  • A history of trauma or abuse;
  • Prolonged stress;
  • Isolation;
  • A recent tragedy or loss;
  • Agitation; and/or
  • Sleep deprivation.
Read more

Minority Mental Health Matters

Minorities in America have unique mental health experiences. Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), and other minority groups experience systemic barriers in daily life that are so unrelatable for white Americans that many refuse to believe they exist. Recognizing the disparities in access and experience of mental health can raise awareness and reduce stigma for vulnerable people.

By nearly any measure, Black people suffer disproportionately in America. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes compared to white women. Black children are more than three times more likely to die after surgery than white children. BIPOC 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 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 people are

Read more

Mental Health Awareness Saves Lives

Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Everyone’s well-being can be tested at times, their abilities to cope challenged, times when being productive can feel impossible. Mental health is equally important to maintain as our physical health, though often goes untreated to a degree than can manifest as a mental illness. 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 mothers exceeds $14 billion dollars through the first five years of a child’s life alone, and fewer adults experiencing

Read more
1 2 3 8

About Us

Welcome to the NeedyMeds Voice! We look forward to presenting you with timely, provocative pieces on healthcare reform, patient advocacy, medication and healthcare access, and other health-related news. Our goals are to educate, enlighten, and elucidate; together, we will try to make sense of the myriad and ongoing healthcare-related changes in the U.S. today.