Intimate Partner Violence: Love Shouldn’t Hurt

By Shon Mack and Senequa Malone | Interns and UAB Community Health and Human Services Students

Image credit Unknown, Graphics by Shayna Bryan

(This article is based on a discussion from WWL’s Monday Night Wellness Watch You can watch a recording of that livestream in the video player below, or on our YouTube page by clicking this link.)


Intimate partner violence (IPV), also known as domestic violence, is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner.

IPV can take many forms. Some are more overt, such as physical violence, others are subtle like verbal, mental, emotional abuse, or other forms. Always, the goal is to control the victim through manipulation.

What are the warning signs?

            Aggressive behavior, controlling, manipulation, isolation, talking down or belittling, frequent bouts of jealousy are all common signs of an abusive relationship. The cycle of abuse ebbs and flows. Love bombing occurs when the abuser overwhelms their victim with loving words, actions, and behavior as a manipulation technique. This often acts as an apology for the abuse, maybe following an incident where the victim threatens to leave. Once the victim is convinced, or guilted, into staying the abuse resumes and may escalate.

Who are the victims?

            Anyone can be a victim of intimate partner violence. Women are more common in IPV cases, but men suffer as well and are often forgotten or disregarded. Statistics show that 1 out of 3 women 1 out of 4 men become victims. In Alabama, 37.5% of women and 29.5% of men experience intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking in their lifetimes. Every case is different, and victims may have one or several of these indicators in common.

What are some of causes?

            Main cause is poor upbringing. Children growing up in households that normalize abuse. Research points to many causes of domestic violence, but all these causes and risk factors have one underlying commonality: the abuser feels the need to exert complete control over his or her partner. Some studies indicate that a cause of domestic violence stems from an intersection of both environmental and individual factors.

Who are the perpetrators?

  • Toxic – People who are full of toxicity
  • Hurt – People who are dealing with hurt
    • “Hurt people, hurt people”, people who have been hurt themselves can lash out to hurt others as a destructive way of dealing with their own pain
  • Broken – People who suffer from insecurities, low self-esteem
  • Learned – People who come from generations of abuse and repeat the abusive behaviors their learned from their family

Why do people stay?

Most people stay in abusive relationships due to a combination of love and fear. They love the person; believe they can change the person. Change comes from within. Loving an abusive person will not make them stop being abusive, they need to acknowledge their behavior and want to change before they are able. It is of utmost importance to understand it is no one’s responsibility to change the abuser. You do not owe them.

However, the number one reason people stay in abusive relationships is fear. People who are in these relationships have often been manipulated into believing it is normal, they deserve it, and/or that they cannot function on their own. They fear life on their own. They feel that no one will want them. For some, the abusive situation might be better than where they came from prior.

Unfortunately, ending an abusive relationship is not as simple as the victim choosing to leave; it is often a matter of the victim being able to safely escape their abuser. Finance can play a major role as well and situations are more complex when children or assets are involved.

How can you escape an abusive relationship?

There are many dedicated experts and volunteers out there to help victims of abuse escape their situation. Contacting the Crisis Center, National Domestic Violence Hotline, and/or other local and national services is a good first step. Here is a list of common steps to take when leaving a domestic violence situation:

  • Create a safety plan
  • Have options where you can go (have a few in mind)
  • Have a bank account or credit card put in your name
  • Get a new cell phone
  • Change the locks, get a security system and outside lights
  • Think of ways to get your children to safety without being obvious
  • You can also think of excuses on how to get out of the house as mentioned earlier

If you do not feel safe researching or accessing online resources in your home, the public library is a great resource and a safe place where your activity cannot be tracked.

Love:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Local resources:

National Resources:


Citations:

Lamothe, C. (2019, December 17). Love bombing: 10 signs to know. Healthline. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/love-bombing. 

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2020). Domestic violence in Alabama. Retrieved from http://www.ncadv.org/files/Alabama.pdf

Statistics. NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://ncadv.org/statistics. 

Warning signs of abuse. The Hotline. (2021, June 15). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.thehotline.org/identify-abuse/domestic-abuse-warning-signs/. 

Why Do Victims Stay? NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://ncadv.org/why-do-victims-stay. 


Salmon and Vitamin D

By Jaelyn Copeland, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Photo by Christina Voinova on Pexels.com

Did you know Salmon is packed with Vitamin D?

Vitamin D insufficiency in both infants and adults is now recognized as a global issue. Both children and adults avoid sun exposure or use sun protection because of concerns about skin cancer, putting them at high risk for vitamin D insufficiency. As a result, diet or supplementation are their only sources of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is fortified in milk, some orange juices, and some breads, yogurts, and cheeses in the United States. Vitamin D2 is present in varying levels in irradiated mushrooms. Vitamin D is naturally contained in the flesh of oily fish. Salmon is recommended based on the dietary tables. It has been suggested that dietary sources of vitamin D, rather than sun exposure, should be the primary supply of the vitamin.

Milk is the most common fortified dietary source of vitamin D, though it typically does not contain at least 80% of what is stated on the label. Fish, particularly oily fish like salmon and mackerel, has long been regarded as a good source of vitamin D. The influence of various cooking procedures on the vitamin D content of fish is poorly understood. A study determined the vitamin D content of various fish species, as well as the influence of baking and frying on vitamin D content. Give baked salmon a try!


Source:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Office of dietary supplements – vitamin d. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved September 30, 2021, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-health%20Professional/.


Balancing Me When Stressed to Be a Better Mom

By Khalia Wilkinson, M.Ed.

Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels.com

Are you an over-extended mom who has not felt like herself lately? Maybe getting out of bed and getting moving in the morning has become difficult. Maybe you have begun stress-eating or you find yourself eating and drinking more and more of the unhealthy foods and beverages that do not refuel your body. If this is you, let’s work to understand what may be going on.

Multiple factors may be at the root of having low energy and/or feelings of stress and anxiety. In order to recognize these causes, let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

  • What is the real cause(s) of the stresses I am experiencing?
  • How do I hit the pause button in order to positively cope and regain self-control?
  • What can I implement today to take a step towards a healthier me?
  • Who are the trusted friends and/or resources that can support, encourage, and comfort me?
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

So what might this process look like?

Exploring the real causes of stress and then hitting the reset button may not be as easy as it sounds. Doing so requires focus and intentionality! If you are finding it difficult to process through your challenges and reset on your own, consider finding a positive and healthy accountability partner, mentor, or professional counselor. You may also consider journaling to get your thoughts and feelings out on paper where you can see them. Examine your journal over the next 30 days to find patterns in your thought processes, especially those that may trigger certain poor behaviors. Finally, know that you are not alone. Many of moms experience times of stress and frustration, but be encouraged but this season of stress will become a moment in the past.

Being Mom…

As you work through your processes…you are continuing to be a good mom. No one is perfect…No one! Continue to love your children; help your children to live life to the fullest; support your children; provide food; provide shelter; make time to have fun with your kids; and be a good model for your children. Of course, this is not exhaustive a list…but it sure is what we do as moms! You are great…you are a mom!


Swollen Balls: Say It Ain’t So?

By Flora Johnson, M.Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Services Alumni

Image from Alex Green | Graphics by Shayna Bryan

Question of the Day

A 23-year-old male is referred for treatment due to swollen testicles. He explains that the reaction occurred after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. What is the best response?

  1. Laugh at the gentleman and dismiss his claim.
  2. Report on the condition to the local county health department immediately.
  3. Thank them for their honesty and let everyone know why not get vaccinated.
  4. Assure it is scientifically impossible and offer evidence-based reasons for testicle swelling.

Continue reading for the answer.


Vax Facts

A reasonable amount of blame has been placed upon the COVID-19 pandemic. Shoveling our woes on the virus is not uncommon. Sure, the virus has caused major and minor disruptions. However, the coronavirus vax jab facts remain the same – it is safe for medical use with little to no known major medical disruptions.

COMRINATY is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for injection use in individuals age 16 and older. The known side effects are mild and include injection site pain, redness, and/or swelling. Chills, fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, and tiredness are also side effects experienced throughout the body.

These side effects occur within two days. This is normal and will go away within a few days. It is 95% effective at preventing infection or death.

My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied.

-Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ)

The Thing Is

Recording artist, Grammy winner, and actress, Nicki Minaj stirred controversy for her vaccine hesitancy perception. The star explained that their Trinidadian cousin’s best friend’s testicles swelled after receiving a vax jab. He allegedly experienced impotence.

Whoa! Let’s fact-check this. The Messenger’s message has a resounding magnitude – one that matters.

Nicki was uninvited to the Met Gala for non-vaccination. She had unanswered COVID-19 questions and refused to take the shot. Her primary concern was valid. However, the controversy caused chaos in Trinidad and abroad. An opportunity to express her vaccine hesitancy concerns with Dr. Fauci, the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and leading COVID-19 physician advisor to the United States, during a live-streamed phone call resulted.

As we stand now, there is no reported such side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad, or I dare say… none that we know of anywhere else in the world.

Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh

Question of the Day Answer

D. Assure it is scientifically impossible and offer evidence-based reasons for testicle swelling. There are no identified reproductive side effects. Possible reasoning for scrotal swelling is the following:

  • Trauma that causes inflammation
  • Testicular cancer
  • STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis)

Take Away This

While the coronavirus vaccines were developed rapidly, they are safe. They reduce viral transmissions and can keep you from getting seriously ill if infected. All side effects are mild and are experienced at the injection site or throughout the body. The vaccine does not disturb the reproductive system.

If I want to ask questions about the vaccine, what’s wrong?”

– Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking questions. However, be certain the information you find is credible. Click here to learn the vax jab facts and where to find other plausible wellness resources.


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Sources and Further Reading:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Pfizer-biontech COVID-19 vaccine overview and Safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/Pfizer-BioNTech.html.

Cohen, L. (2021, September 16). White House offers Nicki Minaj a call after she expressed COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, official says. CBS News. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nicki-minaj-white-house-call-covid-vaccine-hesitancy/.

Kahn, A., & Fisher, J. K. (2019, July 2). What you need to know about scrotal swelling. Healthline. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/scrotal-swelling#causes.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Niaid director. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.niaid.nih.gov/about/director.


Rethinking that Ugly Four-Letter Word: DIET (Part 2)

By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Images from Magda Elhers and Caleb Oquendo | Graphics by Shayna Bryan

Eat a balanced variety, enough of the good stuff, not too much of the other stuff. If the principles of a healthy diet are so simple, why do so many dieters fail? Maybe our perspective is to blame.

As discussed previously, your diet is everything you eat over your entire life, so changing your diet is more akin to changing your lifestyle. The best diet is one you can stick to; one that embraces the rhythms and changes of life. The most restrictive diets demand total compliance and encourage a cult-like devotion. These severe restrictions, such as those that eliminate whole categories of food, make it harder to comply and easier to give up. It sets us up for failure. While someone can give up tobacco or alcohol, we still have to eat every day of our lives.

Small changes, slowly incorporated over a long period of time, are the best way to ease yourself into a healthy diet. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Set realistic goals that you can achieve
    • Set yourself up for success, not failure!
    • Take an honest look at what your current habits are and look for ways to make changes
    • Example: I currently drink about 20 oz of water a day, my new goal is to drink 40 oz a day.
  • Reduce, instead of remove
    • It’s not necessary to eliminate certain things from your diet, especially if you like them. Look for the balance.
    • Example: I currently eat fast food 5 times a week, my new goal is to reduce that to 3 times a week. Eventually I will work towards eating fast food only once a week.
  • Reevaluate
    • If you didn’t meet your goals, set new more achievable goals! Failure is an opportunity to learn and improve, not proof that you can’t do something.
    • Example: I previously drank a case of soda (24) every week, so I set a goal to reduce that to 1 soda per day (7 per week). I didn’t meet that goal, so my new goal is to drink half a case (12) of soda per week.
  • Try new things!
    • New foods, new techniques, new cuisines!
    • Living life to the fullest isn’t meant to be about endlessly cutting back, so neither should your diet. You might surprise yourself with what you find and how your tastes change!
    • Example: I didn’t like brussel sprouts until I tried roasting them, now they’re my favorite go-to green veggie.

Love Yourself and Keep Going

Our stumbles in life do not undermine our previous efforts. Days of self-love and indulgence are part of a healthy lifestyle, both in mind and body. It’s easier to eat dessert in moderation if you don’t view it as a breach of contract. These cycles of adherence are a natural part of living. If we consider the long term, that your diet will be defined by what you consume over a lifetime, maybe we’ll have an easier time sticking to healthy eating and won’t see a failure as the end.

Did you miss Part 1? Find it here!

You can also read our posts about the Mediterranean Diet and DASH Diet.


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Sources and Further Reading:

Calorie Restriction and Fasting Diets: What Do We Know? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/calorie-restriction-and-fasting-diets-what-do-we-know

Freedhoff, Y. (2014, November 17). No, 95 Percent of People Don’t Fail Their Diets. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2014/11/17/no-95-percent-of-people-dont-fail-their-diets

Godman, H. (2018, January 24). How fast should you change your diet to lose weight? Harvard Health. Retrieved September 20, 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/how-fast-should-you-change-your-diet-to-lose-weight

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019, January 9). 8 steps to a heart-healthy diet. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-healthy-diet/art-20047702


Rethinking that Ugly Four-Letter Word: DIET (Part 1)

By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Images from Magda Elhers and Caleb Oquendo | Graphics by Shayna Bryan

Diet has become an ugly word, often associated with a drastic change in eating habits or a temporary quick fix. Limiting saturated fat intake, controlling portion sizes, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables are highly recommended way to limit heart disease risk and control weight.

Unfortunately, most diets fail, and most dieters regain their lost weight within 2 years. The yoyo cycle of weight loss that results from multiple failed attempts may be more damaging than not dieting at all. Why is this happening and what can we do about it?

Picking a diet can feel overwhelming, like eating healthy requires a master’s degree in nutrition. There are an endless number of diet trends and, as long as the industry is profitable, there will always be new ones. This is in spite of the fact that most diets can be diluted down to principles of health and nutrition known for ages: eat a balanced variety, enough of the good stuff, not too much of the other stuff.

The Good Stuff

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Lean Protein
  • Whole Grains

The Other Stuff

  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Saturated Fat

Your diet is what you eat over your lifetime. This is how nutritional scientists define, understand, and research it. Your diet is not a week, a month, or even a year of restrictive eating that will guarantee health and happiness for the rest of your life.

It’s everything.

Read Part 2 to learn how to make a lasting lifestyle shift.


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Sources:

Calorie Restriction and Fasting Diets: What Do We Know? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/calorie-restriction-and-fasting-diets-what-do-we-know

Centers for Disease Control. Heart Disease Facts. (2019, December 2). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

Freedhoff, Y. (2014, November 17). No, 95 Percent of People Don’t Fail Their Diets. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2014/11/17/no-95-percent-of-people-dont-fail-their-diets

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019, January 9). 8 steps to a heart-healthy diet. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-healthy-diet/art-20047702


Where to Get Your Vax Facts & Good Health Information

 By Jaelyn Copeland, Intern and UAB Community Health and Human Services Student

Photos from @NICKIMINAJ on Twitter and Getty Images | Graphics by Shayna Bryan

Recently, the recording artist and global celebrity Nicki Minaj tweeted a series of statements expressing her reason for not attending the Met Gala, the star-studded fashion event postponed this year to September 13th due to COVID-19.  In tweets following, the artist went on to explain, “I’m sure I’ll b vaccinated as well cuz I have to go on tour,” Minaj wrote in a tweet about missing Monday’s Met Gala in New York, implying that she had yet to be vaccinated, which the gala requires. “Once I believe I’ve done enough research,” she continued, she’ll get vaccinated. 

Health educators encourage the general public to consider the facts regarding their health and well-being.  Health educators also work to promote healthy decision making based on the valid science that is available.  Understanding that there are many untrue myths regarding a wide array of topics on social media and in other spaces, health educators encourage of anyone wanting to do their own personal research concerning the vaccine (& other topics).   

To obtain appropriate sources of information, the Wilkinson Wellness Lab recommends visiting health websites supported by Federal Government entities. By going to http://www.usa.gov, you can access all Federal websites. Large professional organizations and well-known medical schools can also be excellent providers of health knowledge. 

Look for websites that end in:  

  • .gov – Identifies a U.S. government agency  
  • .edu - Identifies an educational institution, like a school, college, or university  
  • .org – Usually identifies nonprofit organizations (such as professional groups; scientific, medical, or research societies; advocacy groups)  
  • .com – Identifies commercial websites (such as businesses, pharmaceutical companies, and sometimes hospitals)  

Also, take into account the authors and contributors of the website or social media information as well. If the author’s name appears within the posting, consider whether or not that individual is an authority in the topic. Is this person employed by a company, and if yes, what are the company’s objectives?  Trustworthy websites will typically provide contact information (such as an email address, phone number, and/or mailing address), as well as an “About Us” or “Contact Us” page. 

These tips and more are great ways to examine if a resource is “truthful” or not and support your health decision making in balance with one’s faith.

For accurate information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/library/researchguides/2019novelcoronavirus/websites.html

  

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Sources and Further Reading:

Bryan Pietsch, A. S. (2021, September 14). Nicki Minaj Tweets Coronavirus vaccine conspiracy theory, spotlighting struggle against misinformation. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 14, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2021/09/14/nicki-minaj-covid-19-vaccine-conspiracy/.   

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Centers for Disease control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/. 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). National institutes of health. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://www.nih.gov/.   


A Body Image Testament

By Flora Johnson, M.Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Alumni

Lizzo performs during The BRIT Awards 2020 at The O2 Arena on February 18, 2020 in London, England
Photograph by Samir Hussein/WireImage

“No matter how much positive energy you put into the world, you’re still gonna have people who have something mean to say about you.”

– Melissa Viviane Jefferson (Lizzo), Grammy Award Winning American Singer

What is Body Image?

The way people perceive and feel their physical selves is called body image. Men, women, and all peoples have concerns about their body image. Their weight, the shape or size of a body part, skin, or hair is often zeroed in, bashed, and picked apart. The fashion industry is a major contributor to widespread unhealthy body image through the careful selection of underweight models to display their products, but our peers, the media, and even family members all influence body image. This often promotes destructive feelings of inadequacy.

Body Acceptance Journey

Melissa Viviane Jefferson – known professionally as Lizzo – is an American music artist celebrated for her vocals, savvy personality, and positive body image. She attacks the world with explosive performances and lyrics. The singer shows the world how much she adores herself through outspoken music- inspiring others to accept, love, and protect their own bodies.

Following the release of her new single and a step back into the public limelight, Lizzo had an Instagram honest moment that addressed negative body image comments.

“On the days I feel I should be the happiest, I feel so down,” Lizzo told fans while sitting in her bathroom wearing a wig cap dabbing her eyes. “Like, I hurt so hard.” The Grammy winner revealed she feels unappreciated for working “quadruple” the time. “Sometimes I feel like the world just don’t love me back,” she sobbed.

Positive and Negative Body Image

Everyone struggles with body image. Having a positive body image is understanding that the value of self-worth is not dependent on appearance. It is a positive energy accepting and appreciating a stable body appearance. If a person is satisfied with their image, they flaunt it – unapologetically.

And for the most part it doesn’t hurt my feelings; I don’t care!

Lizzo

Unsatisfaction with one’s appearance is called negative body image. People may compare themselves with others, feel ashamed about parts of their bodies, lack confidence, or feeling uncomfortable in their own body.

Improving Body Image

Learning to love your body is a journey. A balanced lifestyle that incorporates healthier attitudes, food, exercises, and practices is easier when you are in tune with and respond to the needs of your body.

These tips can help a person feel more positive about their body.

  • List 10 things you like about yourself
  • Practice positive self-talk. Say, “My arms are strong” or “I am beautiful.”
  • Do something nice for your body
  • Aim for a healthful lifestyle and eat a nutritious diet
  • Wear comfortable clothes that look good on you
  • Avoid comparing yourself with other people.
  • Be actively critical of media messages and images that make you feel inadequate.
  • See yourself as a whole person, and an imperfect body part.
  • Start a hobby or blog

I don’t have time for your negativity – your internalized self-hatred that you project onto me with your racism and fatphobia. I don’t have time for it. Anyways, I’m going to continue to be me. I’m going to continue to be a bad b—-.

Lizzo

You can listen to a podcast episode from Flora “Coach Flo” Johnson discussing body image here: Pillow Talk – Body Image Entanglement.

If you or someone you may know is experiencing body image or eating concerns, seek immediate help. Speak with a doctor, dependable friend, therapist, or parent about your situation.


Use this image to share the positive messaging on social media!

Sources:

Brazier, Y., & Marney, W. A. (2020, October 11). Body image: What is it, and how can I improve it? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/249190.

Hussein, S. (2021, February 18). Photograph of Lizzo. WireImage.

National Eating Disorders Collaboration. (2021 March). Body Image [Fact Sheet]. Australian Government Department of Health. https://nedc.com.au/assets/Fact-Sheets/NEDC-Fact-Sheet-Body-Image.pdf.

Yang, R. (2021, August 15). Lizzo tearfully slams ‘fatphobic,’ ‘racist’ haters as cardi B and more celebs Offer Support. EW.com. https://ew.com/music/lizzo-cardi-b-haters-fatphobic-racist/.


Vaccinate for Safety

By Jaelyn Copeland (Community Health and Human Services Student)

A vaccine is like a seatbelt. It’s a safety precaution that can save your life. Consider the COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

The vaccine is like a seatbelt. Safe, effective, and well-tested. If you crash, you’ll be glad you have it. Strongly consider the vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns. 

Many activities that you enjoyed before the pandemic can be resumed once you are completely vaccinated. You are not considered fully immunized until two weeks after receiving your second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or two weeks after receiving a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Until then, you should continue to use all available techniques to protect yourself and others, such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

No vaccine is perfect, just as no helmet, seatbelt, or other safety device can guarantee you won’t get hurt. However, studies have demonstrated that vaccination provides a significant boost in protection and may make illness less severe for those who are still get sick. In Alabama, 97% of hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated. There is still a lot to learn about COVID-19 vaccinations; scientist and doctors are regularly assessing research and revising guidelines. 

Vaccinate yourself, even if you’ve already had COVID-19. Reach out to your friends and loved ones to make sure they’re protected as well. The vaccine is currently available to everyone age 18 and older.

To find a clinic to get vaccinated, visit Vaccines.gov or Alabama’s COVID-19 Dashboard


Sources and Further Reading:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, August 5). COVID-19 breakthrough Case investigations and reporting. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/health-departments/breakthrough-cases.html.

Jones, A. (2021, August 3). Back to square one: UAB experts say Social DISTANCING, Masks, vaccinations are key to STOPPING covid-19 surge. UAB News. https://www.uab.edu/news/health/item/12192-back-to-square-one-uab-experts-say-social-distancing-masks-vaccinations-are-key-to-stopping-covid-19-surge.

“When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html.


Simone Biles

By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Original Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP

Simone Biles is an American gymnast with a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals. She is widely regarded by many as the greatest gymnast of our generation. Biles was the favorite to win multiple individual and team events in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but shocked the public when it was announced on July 27th that she would be pulling out of the final team competition for undisclosed health reasons. The following day, she pulled out of the rest of her planned events and gave further explanation: She’d been struggling with the immense pressure that comes with her position and could not compete due to physical and mental health issues. With Biles out of the competition, America’s chances of sweeping the gold for Olympic gymnastics all but vanished. This announcement was met with reactions of anger, outrage, betrayal, sympathy, and support. Why the mixed response?

If Biles had broken a bone or torn a ligament that rendered her unable to compete, the American public may have universally replied with kindness and empathy, viewing it as a tragedy. But because Biles’ reasons were partially mental, the feedback was not at all kind. Why such anger? The answer lies in our complicated and at times antagonistic relationship with mental health.

The World Health Organization describes mental health as “the foundation for the well-being and effective functioning of individuals.” According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 American adults have a mental illness, but less than half of those will receive treatment. This is likely due to the great stigma associated with mental health treatment and the common perception that seeking help is a last resort. As a result, the average delay between onset of symptoms and treatment is 11 years.

This is not at all how we treat physical issues, where prevention and prompt treatment are the norm. There is pressure to keep issues related to mental health invisible. Tough it out. This is especially a common thought among the athletic community.

The whole situation reminded me of a conversation I had about a month ago with Susan Chambers, a friend of mine who competes nationally in powerlifting. She was struggling with her own stubbornness in knowing when to quit and call it a day. When she’s tired and can’t focus, she’s at risk for serious injury which has happened to her in the past. On this day, she asked herself aloud, “Are you actually worried that will happen or are you being lazy and looking for an excuse? What’s the line between self-destructive and dedicated?”

I responded: “Guilt and shame.” If you’re pushing yourself because you feel inspired, all is good, but if guilt, shame, or fear of failure is motivating you, that’s bad. That’s when you risk seriously hurting yourself, mentally and physically.

Sue was silent for a moment, then said, “You win this round of self-care.”


Simone Biles is a gifted athlete who inspires many and will for years to come. She has the grit and determination to become a champion and the deep maturity to know herself and her limits. No matter the full circumstances, Simon Biles does not owe us further details or explanations. She does not need to justify her decision or apologize for the disappointment it caused, because she owes us nothing. She may be our pride and joy, but she belongs only to herself.

I reached out to Sue again for her thoughts on Simone Biles and the public response. She had this to say:

“Knowing your limits and prioritizing your health and well-being is laudable. Simone Biles is a world class athlete under an incomprehensible amount of scrutiny from the public. For her to advocate for herself and her needs was extraordinarily brave. We need more role models like her, who will demonstrate self-compassion as something more valuable than competition. I guess the short form is: She is a champion, and championing her own well-being proves it.”


Similar articles from the Lab:

Take Care of Yourself! by Adrienne Stokes

Serena Williams by Jaelyn Copeland


Sources and Further Reading:

Chambers, S. (2021, June 29). Personal communication [online chat].

Chambers, S. (2021, July 29). Personal communication [online chat].

Choudhry, F. R., Mani, V., Ming, L. C., & Khan, T. M. (2016). Beliefs and perception about mental health issues: a meta-synthesis. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment12, 2807–2818. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S111543

Mental health by the numbers. NAMI. (n.d.). https://nami.org/mhstats.

Ramsay, G., & Sinnott, J. (2021, July 27). Simone Biles withdraws from women’s team gymnastics at Tokyo 2020 Olympics as ROC Wins gold. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/27/sport/simone-biles-tokyo-2020-olympics/index.html.

Riedel, C. (10 August 2019). Photograph of Simone Biles at US Championships. Associated Press.

@USAGym. “After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition. We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.” Twitter, 28 Jul. 2021, 1:14 a.m., twitter.com/USAGym/status/1420266286441922562

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Mental health. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/westernpacific/health-topics/mental-health.

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Mental health: Strengthening our response. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response.