Nurture of Alabama believes Birmingham can thrive, especially if communities address the mental health crisis experienced in our neighborhoods. Through the event Friday, May 19th, Nurture’s goals are to: 1) remove the stigma of mental health support, 2) improve mental health services accessibility, and 3) provide community education on mental health & wellness.
The event will have chair massages, a licensed professional counselor providing depression screenings, speakers, free resources, giveaways, local food trucks, yoga sessions, line dancing, blood pressure checks and more. So come out, have a good time, and let’s engage in mental wellness!
By Jessica Feagin, Intern and UAB Community Health and Human Services Student
A caregiver can be anyone who provides help and care to another person in need, such as a sick spouse/partner, disabled child, or an aging relative. Being a caregiver can be rewarding just by the act of being there for a loved one in need; however, sometimes, a shift in emotions can occur. Those emotions can include exhaustion, frustration, sadness, loneliness, and anger. Caregiver stress is the physical and emotional stress of caregiving, which is common (Mayo Clinic, 2022).
Risk for caregiver stress are higher amount women. Some of the risks associated are social isolation, lack of coping skills, lack of choice in being a caregiver, depression, and long hours spent caregiving. Being a caregiver can make you so focused on others that you do not realize you are suffering from caregiver stress. Some signs of caregiver stress could be: frequent tiredness, constantly feelings of worry, not getting enough sleep, gaining/losing weight, sadness, frequent headaches, bodily pain, and abusing alcohol or drugs. Too much stress can harm your health and increase your risk of medical problems (Mayo Clinic, 2022).
Here are some tips that were provided by actual caregivers off of social media on how they manage the stress and pressure of caregiving (Sealy et al., 2022):
Get Enough Sleep
Do a Little Coloring
Have a Healthy Dose of Laughter
Get a Pet
Just Say “No”
Reclaim Your Identity
Prioritize Your Own Medical Needs
Ask For and Accept Help
I can relate to some of the tips that were provided. Before my daughter passed in April, I was her mother, nurse, and caregiver. I am a professional nurse at a hospital and had to take care of my daughter at home. She was diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, cerebral palsy, seizures, quadriplegic, developmentally delayed, and vision and hearing impaired. She also had a tracheostomy, feeding tube, and was oxygen dependent. My husband and I had to provide total care for our daughter. It was vital for us to manage caregiver stress to take care of her and ourselves properly. These tips are helpful, and most importantly, do not be afraid to ask for and accept help. You cannot do it alone! If you have ever had to be a caregiver, professionally or personally, how did you relieve stress and burnout?
Join us on Facebook Live on Thursday, April 27, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. to witness the “Your Hair, Your Health” panel discussion featuring a few CHHS Interns and a special guest! The panel will discuss mutual experiences related to natural hair. Please Join.
By LaTangellia Walker | Community Health and Human Services Intern
Shame is a painful, self-critical emotion; A feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. When we feel shame, it is common to think of ourselves in a negative light. We begin to think that we are ugly, incompetent, or stupid (The psychology of shame, 2023). The moment we begin having these thoughts, we separate our true selves with an ideal image of who we aspire to be. Our ideal image is usually represented by a strong figure, not someone who drowns themselves in self-pity.
Shame is associated with many mental health disorders. The most common mental health disorder that shame is correlated with is suicide, which is often seen as a motive for suicidal behavior. In 2021, 47,646 people died by suicide (CDC, 2022). Suicide rates have been skyrocketing for years and there is evidence that social factors such as loniless, financial ruin and shame are more direct causes of this dramatic increase.
The most common questions we are asked in the United States are “What do you do?” or “Are you seeing anyone?” or “When are you going to have kids?” Oftentimes, when we are being asked these questions, we judge ourselves before anyone else gets a chance to. But what would happen if we let others judge us without judging ourselves? When we leave this world, we aren’t going to care what people say about us.
So how can we learn let go of our shamefulness?
Admit when you feel shame and explore why.
Talk to someone you trust about what you are feeling.
Find compassion for yourself.
Remember that your opinion of yourself matters the most!
By Jaelyn Copeland | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern
Depressed and Anxiety are fairly common mental health issues among individuals across the world. According to the CDC, depression occurs when a sad mood lasts for a long time, and interferes with normal, everyday functioning (CDC, 2022). Symptoms of Depression include:
Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time
Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun
Feeling irritable‚ easily frustrated‚ or restless
Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
Waking up too early or sleeping too much
Eating more or less than usual or having no appetite
Experiencing aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment
Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
Feeling tired‚ even after sleeping well
Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself
Fortunately there are existing supplements that can help treat symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha is part of an evergreen plant that grows in both Asia and Africa. The plant is known to have health benefits when ingested as teas, powders, tinctures and supplements, or in raw form (Chandrasekhar et al., 2012). Ashwagandha is a classic example of a adaptogen, a plant or mushroom used for a variety of stress-related ailments such as anxiety, sleeplessness, aging and well-being. Ashwagandha also aids the body’s ability to withstand both physical and mental stress (Kumar et al., 2021).
Here are 7 benefits of using Ashwaganda:
Relieves stress and anxiety
Lowers blood sugar and fat
Increases muscular strength
Improves sexual function in women
Boosts fertility and testosterone levels in men
Sharpens focus and memory
Supports heart health
Ashwagandha is usually consumed by using supplement capsules or in tablet, powder, tincture and tea form (Forbes, 2023). For more creativity, you can add the raw form of Ashwagandha into nut butters, granola, smoothies and overnight oats with low exposure to high heat. Have you tried Ashwagandha? What has been your experience? Feel free to leave a comment and join us on Facebook.
Kumar S, Bouic PJ, Rosenkranz B. Investigation of CYP2B6, 3A4 and ß-esterase interactions of Withania somnifera (L.) dunal in human liver microsomes and HepG2 cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 2021;270:113766.
Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 34(3), 255–262. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.106022.
By Tyler Cook | MAEd Student, UAB Community Health & Human Services
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Stroke is also preventable and treatable. Being intentional about your daily activities can minimize or increase your risk of having a stroke. Knowing your family’s health history and engaging in health promoting activities are some of the few approaches to minimize your chances of having a stroke. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The brain controls our movements, stores, our memories, and is the source of our thoughts, emotions, and language. The brain also controls many functions of the body, like breathing and digestion (CDC, 2022). It is important to keep our brain and body healthy in order to reduce our risk for stroke.
A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when something blocks blood supply to a part of the brain or happens when a brain’s blood vessel bursts (CDC, 2022). The leading cause of strokes are high blood pressure, followed by high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and sickle cell disease. These conditions are commonly found in individuals within the southern regions of the United States and is the main reason why stroke risk high in the South. According to the CDC (2022), “People with a family history of stroke are also likely to share common environments and other potential factors that increase their risk. The chances for stroke can increase even more when heredity combines with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking cigarettes and eating an unhealthy diet.” However, if those lifestyle choices are poor choices, it can increase the chances of having a stroke. Those lifestyle choices including eating high in fat foods, lack of physical activity, alcoholism, and constant use of tobacco products.
Not only do unhealthy lifestyle choices contribute to stroke risk, but risk is also greater with older age, male sex, and certain racial/ethnic minority groups (i.e., African Americans, Latino Americans). Another major contributor to stroke risk is stress. Constant and increased stress can raise blood pressure and thusly increase risk for stroke. For these reasons, consider the following healthier lifestyle practices below and let’s lower our risk of stroke in the South.
Health Tips from the CDC:
Eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol.
Limit salt (sodium) intake
Keep a healthy weight in consultation with your doctor
Be physically active, getting at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, such as a brisk walk, each week.
Limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day for men, 1 per day for women.
Manage your medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease in consultation with your doctor.
Work with your health care team, including health coach, pastor/spiritual advisor, counselor, etc.
Let’s support our family, friends and neighbors in the adoption of the health tips above
By Alliemarie Humphries | PhD Student, UAB Community Health & Human Services
Did you know college students are more susceptible to poor sleep hygiene and sleep quality? Over the last decade, studies have found that college students reported having poor sleep and poor sleep behaviors (Kloss et al., 2015; ACHA, 2020; Gipson et al, 2019). Getting a good night’s rest can improve your cognitive performance and capabilities, your mood, and overall health. The cited health risks include potentially developing a sleeping disorder, low sleep hygiene and practices can lead to a myriad of both long and short term adverse health outcomes. Health ailments include: high blood pressure, depression, and obesity have been linked to poor sleep quality and quantity. In extreme cases, individuals can be fatally injured while driving if they are experience poor sleep. An annual report by the Traffic National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that more than 697 accidents are as a result of falling asleep behind the wheel that resulted in fatal injuries (2020). This is an issue that places the individual driving and members of the community at risk.
It is recommended that adults receive 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night (CDC, 2017). To compare, young adults are recommended to receive 8 to 10 hours and infants are recommended to receive up to 16 hours of sleep nightly (CDC,2017). A growing need to review the lifestyles and behaviors in the college context is necessary, especially regarding how students perceive their own wellness as a means of sacrificing healthy behaviors to achieve academic goals. The past 20 year of scientific literature explains that college students experience higher rates of poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation (Hicks et al., 2001). So which is more important, quality or quantity of sleep. Neither, they are both important. As college students, there are already numerous factors that must be balanced to ensure success towards graduation. How could one possibly add another item to the already many demands of college life? Remember, college is a period in your life, but sleep is a part of your whole life and is thusly important to your quality of life.
Sleep hygiene is a combination of an individual’s sleep quality and sleep habits. The regular maintenance of routine and consistency are found at the rudimentary comprehension of sleep (NHLBI, 2009). To improve this area of your health, specifically your relationship and perceptions towards your sleep, it’s helpful to consider what your current sleep hygiene routine and behaviors look like. To do this using a sleep journal can help to navigate what your behaviors are throughout the day and their influence on your sleep schedule and ultimately the quality of sleep. Additionally, some tips are below in support of sleep wellness.
For a healthier sleep, avoid: – Avoid exercising within a 3-hour window of when you plan to go to bed – Avoid eating heavy meals before bed – Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and over the counter stimulants – Do not use screens or other digital items with blue light before bed – Avoid stimulating activities before bed – Avoid drinking caffeine 8 to 10 hours prior to going to sleep
For healthier sleep, try: – Daily physical activity (more than 3 hours before your bedtime) – Implement a sleep schedule; going to bed and waking up at the same time each day – Embrace a cat nap; keep your naps between 15 and 20 minutes – Keep your sleeping environment clean and calming space – Only use your bed for sleep and sex; avoid doing homework from your bed – If you like to read before bed, read in a different space than your bed
If you have trouble sleeping, try: – If you are unable to fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and engage in a light activity until you feel sleep once again – Breathing techniques, such as meditation or light yoga stretches – Journaling
George, D., Dixon, S., Stansal, E., Gelb, S. L., & Pheri, T. (2008). Time Diary and questionnaire assessment of factors associated with academic and personal success among University undergraduates. Journal of American College Health, 56(6), 706–715. https://doi.org/10.3200/jach.56.6.706-715
Gipson, C. S., Chilton, J. M., Dickerson, S. S., Alfred, D., & Haas, B. K. (2018). Effects of a sleep hygiene text message intervention on sleep in college students. Journal of American College Health, 67(1), 32–41. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2018.1462816
Kloss, J. D., Nash, C. O., Walsh, C. M., Culnan, E., Horsey, S., & Sexton-Radek, K. (2015). A “sleep 101” program for college students improves sleep hygiene knowledge and reduces maladaptive beliefs about sleep. Behavioral Medicine, 42(1), 48–56. https://doi.org/10.1080/08964289.2014.969186
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). (2009, August). At-A-Glance: Healthy Sleep. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/
National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2020, December). Overview of motor vehicle crashes in 2019. (Traffic Safety Facts Research Note. Report No. DOT HS 813 060). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
By Lacey George | MAEd Student, UAB Community Health & Human Services
Conversations surrounding the controversial topic of sexual violence, and its effects on survivors, their loved ones, and our society, have been increasing over time. In light of the #METOO movement, sexual abuse, assault, and violence survivors are finally given a voice to tell their story, sometimes years later. Because of this, we are finally confronting the realities of what those brave women, men, and children have endured.
Sexual Violence is too Common
Each year, sexual assaults occur in approximately 463,634 Americans, which is roughly 1 every 68 seconds.
More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence, including physical contact in their lifetimes.
Sexual Violence Starts Early:
1 in 3 females will experience rape between the ages of 11-17 years of age, and 1 in 8 experience it before the age of 10.
The effects of sexual violence are long-lasting and far-reaching. Sexual violence negatively affects the survivor’s quality of life, psychological wellbeing, and social opportunities, such as dating and social isolation. Sexual violence intersects with many chronic health problems, such as sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, depression, and sexual health problems. Moreover, sexual violence is linked to adverse health behaviors. For example, victims are more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, use drugs, and engage in risky sexual activities.
Stopping sexual violence before it has the chance to occur has become the primary focus of sexual violence prevention efforts. This type of prevention effort focuses on changing out-of-date beliefs and victim-blaming attitudes and framing sexual violence as a significant public health problem. To effectively prevent sexual violence, we must make the connection between all forms of oppression (including racism, homophobia, sexism, adultism, and many others) and how oppression has created a culture in which inequality thrives, and violence is seen as the norm.
Actions to Prevent Sexual Violence:
Promoting social norms that protect against sexual violence encourages men and boys to be allies for others.
Teaching skills that can prevent sexual violence, such as teaching safe-dating and intimate relationships skills, promoting healthy sexuality, and teaching healthy coping mechanisms to adolescents.
Creating protecting environments, such as improving safety and monitoring in schools, community centers, and workplaces.
Smith SG, Zhang X, Basile KC, Merrick MT, Wang J, Kresnow M, & Chen J. (2018). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2015 Data Brief— Updated Release. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on January 28, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/2015data-brief508.pdf
By Senequa Malone | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern
We’ve heard sayings like, “From of the mouths of babes” or references is in revered text “and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). These expressions signify that children are often capable of saying or doing wise, insightful, or mature things. These words or actions can be what is needed to start a movement. This was especially true during the perilous times of the early Civil Rights Movement when many children marched, were beaten, chased by dogs, and sent to jail. The children advocated for change…change in unjust laws and change toward justice all over the country, especially for African Americans living under Jim Crow laws in the South.
One such child was Claudette Colvin. As an eager young teen, she was inspired to make an immediate change one day after school. That day in class, at the segregated Booker T. Washington school in Montgomery, Claudette and her classmates discussed injustices experienced under Jim Crow laws. This bothered Claudette and she knew she had to stand for justice for herself and others. So, she decided that she would conduct her own sit-in. As she later recalled, “All I remember is that I was not going to walk off the bus voluntarily.” Claudette knew she paid her bus fees just like everyone else and deserved to ride without any trouble. She was a member of the NAACP Youth Council and knew her constitutional rights. She went on to elaborate that it felt as if Harriet Tubman was pushing her down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth on the other.
We always want to teach our children and even communities to do what is right; having them see and experience it for themselves even if they must stand for someone else that’s being oppressed or mistreated. On March 2, 1955, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin became the first person arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person. The first person to make the news for sitting down.
Colvin’s name was all over the local radio and newspaper print. A young black girl was arrested for being a troublemaker; not giving up her seat for a white person. This disturbed the black community greatly and many leaders quickly acted to get this young lady out of jail and home safely to her family, but they were also inspired. Claudette Colvin’s approach and boldness was ingenious. This young lady sparked the talk for a new boycott.
Local leaders in the Civils Rights Movement recognized the great potential in a non-violent approach had for putting their cause in the national spotlight but did not want to put that pressure upon a child. They knew the media would try anything to demonize her character, use all stereotypes or misjudgments against her and in turn the cause. Claudette was a dark-skinned, unemployed student. Later, she became pregnant and as an unwed expectant mother, the scrutiny of national attention would be intense. Leaders did not want that amount of hate and ignorance directed towards a child. So, they patiently waited and nine months later set in motion their plan with the perfect candidate for their strategy: Rosa Parks, a secretary for the local NAACP chapter. She was a married, employed, light-skinned, mature woman with good hair and the fiery spirit to stand up to national scrutiny. She grabbed the torch of “fight” lit by Claudette Colvin and brought attention to injustice. It was the perfect recipe for success.
While certain names are more recognizable than others, it is the impact and not the recognition that matters. Claudette Colvin’s fearless action is as unmatched and commendable as other greats during these turbulent times. One person’s stance for right can be the catalyst for positive change for so many lives and future generations. The movement would never have been the success it was without the children’s contribution and sacrifice. Colvin’s immediate act for justice and clever plan worked to set the stage for the bus boycotts and later, the Civil Rights Movement as a whole. A young teenage child wanted to see change in the world, and she not only succeeded but blazed a trail for many following behind her. Maybe without Claudette Colvin, we would not know of Rosa Parks’ bravery or Dr. King’s leadership and remarkable speeches. Colvin later became one of the plaintiffs for Browder v Gayle, a federal case which led to the desegregation of Montgomery’s buses. Thusly, her example of non-violent demonstration and advocacy led to victory in the U.S. District Court and integrated busing in December 1956.
As professionals in community health and human services, we stand on the shoulders of many advocates who championed the social well-being of the people adversely impacted by Jim Crow laws. Those shoulders can be adult shoulders or teenage shoulders like Claudette Colvin. Let’s encourage our youth and our young at heart to stand for justice, to champion the well-being of others, and be ready to change the world! Greatness is out there. It is not the size that matters, but the power of the impact!
By Shon Mack and Senequa Malone | Interns and UAB Community Health and Human Services Students
(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.