As families across the country plan their Independence Day celebrations, some people with posttraumatic stress (PTSD), especially veterans, are preparing for a rough weekend. The sudden, sharp sounds of firecrackers can be jarring to already-anxious people. To veterans with posttraumatic stress, fireworks may trigger memories of combat, leading to flashbacks, panic attacks, anxiety, and other unpleasant symptoms. It’s not just veterans who struggle with these symptoms, though. A rape survivor may be startled and frightened by the sudden crackle of fireworks, while a person with traumatic memories of a natural disaster may mistakenly interpret the fireworks as the sound of another natural disaster.
Military With PTSD is one of many organizations advocating for people with PTSD this Independence Day. The organization’s Explosion of Kindness campaign provides signs notifying neighbors that a veteran with PTSD lives nearby. To those who want to be patriotic without hurting the very people who have given the most to this country, the signs are a timely reminder that loud noises can be frightening.
Every year, about 1,000 California families seek religious exemptions to vaccinations for their children, with an additional 17,000 raising “philosophical objections.” New legislation endeavors to change this. A bill approved by the State Assembly would mandate vaccines for all children, unless there is a medical reason to avoid immunizations. The State Senate still needs to vote to approve amendments to the legislation, but if signed by the governor, only homeschooling parents would be permitted to refuse vaccines.
The Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which made marriage equality the law of the land, could improve public health. Most Americans still get their insurance from employers, but not all employer-backed plans are required to cover domestic partners. Now that Americans can legally marry same-sex partners, more people may be covered by high-quality health insurance.
Though federal law requires health insurance coverage for mental health conditions, ever-shifting definitions of “medically necessary” treatment leave many people with eating disorders without proper medical care. Missouri hopes to be the first state to change this. A bill signed into law last week by Governor Jay Nixon outlines the specific treatment protocols insurers must cover.
Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people aged 10 to 24, with about 4,600 deaths each year. Among transgender teens and racial minorities, the statistics are even more dramatic. Many teens, especially those living in poverty, don’t get access to any mental health care, let alone the kind of quality care that can prevent suicide. School-based health centers (SBHCs) offer students care when they need it, and research suggests they improve mental health. According to two studies, students are 10% to 21% more likely to access care via SBHCs than through community mental health centers.
If you’ve watched Silicon Valley, you know that life as a start-up owner is rife with challenges and stress. For 30% of start-up owners, these challenges lead to depression. For Cambrian Genomics owner Austin Heinz, depression led to suicide. Depression is just one component of the problem, with 49% of entrepreneurs experiencing mental health issues, and 72% saying mental health issues affect themselves or a family member.
Trauma survivors struggling to manage their symptoms are often told to get a good night’s sleep, but this might be the wrong advice. A study that compared sleep-deprived trauma survivors to their well-rested counterparts found that the sleep-deprived group experienced fewer intrusive traumatic memories.
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