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Autism Spectrum Disorder: Demystifying the Myth

Growing up in Nigeria, a sub- Sahara Africa country, I grew up with different myths and ideas of what a disability is and how people with disabilities should be treated.  I knew they should not be isolated, segregated and not allowed to participate in normal life events. Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, live a traumatic life because Nigerian society does not believe in intellectual disabilities that do not manifest physically, such a person who lives with Down syndrome or cerebral palsy.  Parents face stigma on an everyday basis if their child/children are living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  The fear of what the future holds for their children in terms of obtaining adequate health care, education, employable skills and being accepted in the society is always a constant thought for parents. The above coupled with a lack of awareness, stigmatization and discrimination gave birth to my NGO- “The Autism…

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Mental Health at Work

Studies show that 1 in 5 employees have a mental health disorder, the most common being depression and anxiety. Because people often hide their problems at work, many of those who suffer never get the support and treatment that could significantly improve quality of life and job performance. To address this problem, it’s helpful to understand how mental health symptoms often present at work as compared to in other situations. For example, a coworker who is depressed may seem nervous, restless, or irritable, and complain of physical aches and pains. He or she may become passive, withdrawn, aimless, and unproductive. They also may be fatigued, partly as a result of the mood disorder or because they are having trouble sleeping at night. Depression may also impair judgment or cloud decision making. Anxiety has similar manifestations, including restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and excessive worrying. Employees may require constant reassurance about performance.…

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Recognizing Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness month. You might wonder: why the distinction, if mental health doesn’t discriminate across race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation? Consider this: while the number of people experiencing mental illness may be the same across demographic groupings, people's access to care and quality of treatment for mental illness varies greatly. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “the quality of and access to mental health care are suboptimal for minority groups.” NIMH also describes several recent studies showing that “members of racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to use inpatient hospitalization and emergency rooms, and more likely to receive lower quality care.” Cultural and language differences add to the challenge. Mental illness is still not acknowledged in many cultures, resulting in even…

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City Calls on Philadelphia to Take Online Pledge to “Check in” on those who Have the Holiday Blues

PHILADELPHIA – Starting today and throughout the holiday season, the city’s behavioral health department will be calling on Philadelphians to take a quick online pledge to “check in” on family and friends who are suffering from the holiday blues for reasons that range from losing a loved one to losing a job. Anyone can take the pledge, which encourages individuals to also be mindful of their own holiday wellness, at https://www.healthymindsphilly.org/en/mind-your-holidays through January 1, 2018. While the holiday season can be a joyous time of celebration, cheer and family fun for many, studies show that as many as 30 million Americans experience feelings of depression during the holidays. People who are spending the holidays alone while those around them gather with family and friends may be especially vulnerable. Experts say a phone call, text message, email, visit or invitation may help lift the spirits of a person who is troubled…

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