Maryland’s Smoking Age Debate

Smoke (Photo credit: AMagill)

During the month of February, the WellPower blog team will be considering the pros and cons of raising the legal age of cigarette smoking from 18 to 21. This debate was prompted by legislation that will be introduced this year by Maryland State Senator Jennie M. Forehand (A Democrat from District 17 in Rockville) to raise the smoking age.

We’ll be blogging about the smoking age debate from different perspectives, and inviting others to weigh in on this issue throughout the month.

We would love to hear from you! Please tweet us @WellPowerBlog #SmokingAge …read more

The Healing Aspects of Rhythm & Dance – Tackling Health Disparities among African-American Men

KevDancer

Health disparities are most prevalent among marginalized communities, including communities of color. African-Americans historically have been barred from accessing health care or have been violated instead of receiving care (think Tuskegee Experiment).

African-American men, in particular, have a well-grounded fear or mistrust of modern medicine because of the aforementioned systemic disparities that exists within the African-American community.

However, just because doctors’ offices often will not have many African-American men in the waiting rooms ready to receive preventive care, this does not mean that they are not finding alternative ways to ensure that they remain healthy and receive the healing that …read more

Health Effects of Toxic Spill in West Virginia=Unknown

When MCHM, a chemical that is used to clean coal, spilled into the water of West Virginia, it resulted in an inconvenient, though very necessary water ban during the cleanup process. While the ban from using tap water is slowly being lifted, many of the state’s residents are still struggling to go about their daily routines faced with the restriction. In the meantime, much anxiety has been stirred about the immediate and future health problems that this spill may have caused.

Water drop (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Unfortunately, there is much that is unknown about how MCHM …read more

2013: Things that Made Us Go “Hmmm…” In the Health Sphere

It is time to bid farewell to 2013 and gear up for the adventures that await us in 2014. But, before we cast our eyes toward the future, let’s take a brief moment to reflect – in the immortal words of C+C Music Factory – on the top five “things that made us go ‘hmmm…’” in the health sphere over the past year.

View of Gothenburg from the docks at New Years Eve. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. Despite the fact that one quarter of Americans have trouble putting food on the table, Congress voted to cut $4.1 billion from …read more

Resolve to be Healthy and ‘Well’thy

New Years Eve in Central Park (Photo credit: Hans J. Hansen)

Exercise regularly.

Run a marathon.

Eat less red meat.

If you are like me and millions of other Americans, a variation of one of the above statements probably at one time or another have been included in your “New Year’s” resolutions.

Why do we often wait until the end of one year to resolve to live healthier and ‘well’thier next year?

I think that we feel safe in making resolutions because we do not hold ourselves accountable – our resolutions become a part of our personal “wish” list …read more

Helping Our Heros: Standing Up to PTSD

It’s been almost a year since the horrific incident in Newtown, Connecticut that resulted in the loss of 20 children and 6 teachers. Despite the months that have passed, the psychological trauma that accompanied the shooting is still very real for first responders and families of the victims.

Thomas Bean, one of the first officers to respond to the Newtown shooting, is living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “That day killed me inside.” He recalls, explaining that he continues to have flashbacks, wake in tears, and suffer paranoid delusions that people are trying to kill him.

Due to Thomas …read more

ACA Help is on the Way!

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you find the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and health insurance options confusing, you are not alone…literally. There is help on the way! Starting October 1, 2013, consumers in all states will be able to choose affordable health insurance options through new Health Insurance Marketplaces. Consumers can get help as they apply for and choose new insurance options from Community Navigator Organizations.

On August 15th, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the organizations who would be receiving nearly $65 million in funds to set up their Community Navigator programs. As stated …read more

Addressing the Social Determinants of Health

I’ve had the opportunity to work in both the health and social service fields, so my interest was piqued when I learned about the 2nd Annual Symposium on the Social Determinants of Health, sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute. The agenda promised a diverse range of topics, from concrete policies and programs to research and theory on social capital, racism and poverty. And, the symposium did not disappoint.

Thirty speakers observed the importance of safe housing, education, a strong social network, access to healthy foods and quality health care to overall health outcomes. Throughout the conference, academics, practitioners, …read more

Poverty a Risk Factor for HIV?

The correlation between poverty and an increased risk for contracting HIV/AIDS has recently been substantiated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In a recent study, it was shown that ‘about one in every 50 heterosexual Americans living in poorer urban neighborhoods is infected with HIV’. This is about 5 times the infection rate of the general population.

This study is particularly relevant as the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene of Maryland (DHMH) estimated that the Baltimore City-Towson area ranked as the metropolitan area with the 4th highest rate of adults living with HIV infection in the U.S. in …read more