News & Announcements

Latino Subgroups-Specific Research Critical to Addressing Tobacco-Related Health Disparities

Posted: October 22, 2014

Numbering 53 million, it is estimated that Hispanics/Latinos may comprise 31 percent of the population in the United States by 2060. They are the largest ethnic group in the country, have one of the fastest growing youth segments, and are faced with persistent health disparities. The public health community generally treats Hispanics/Latinos as one homogenous group, overlooking the very distinct differences among various subgroups. As a result, on the whole, this population appears to have lower smoking rates than the general U.S. population and other major ethnic groups; however, in terms of tobacco-related death and disease, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and three out of four leading causes of death in this population are tobacco related. Treating the Hispanic/Latino community as one group paints an inaccurate picture about tobacco use behavior and its impact. When disaggregated, there are significant variations in smoking rates among Hispanic/Latino subgroups.

This month, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Legacy released a ground breaking study produced in collaboration with Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) entitled: “Legacy Latino College Health Initiative: A Study of Tobacco-Related Health Disparities in Hispanic/Latino Subpopulations.” No research effort to-date had focused exclusively on drilling down tobacco use within the Hispanic/Latino college population. The study was conducted at four different universities across the United States, representing regional differences, types of schools (public and private institutions) and Hispanic/Latino subgroups. The outcomes help to illustrate the differences in cigarette smoking and other tobacco products used among college Latino subgroups. For example, Cuban-Americans have the highest prevalence of cigarette smoking (37 percent) while Dominican-Americans have the lowest (9 percent).

Another critical finding was the higher rate of smoking among students living on-campus (29 percent) compared to those that live off-campus (16 percent). Furthermore, a high rate of experimentation with emerging products like hookah and electronic cigarettes was observed among specific subgroups. Menthol use in particular, was also significantly higher among Cuban-Americans and Puerto-Ricans, compared to Mexican-Americans and Dominican-Americans. What does all of this data mean?


Call for Abstracts for the 6th International Meeting on Indigenous Child Health

Posted: October 21, 2014

The International Meeting on Indigenous Child Health (IMICH), held every two years, focuses on innovative clinical care models and community-based public health approaches for children and youth in First Nations, Inuit, Métis, American Indian, Alaska Native and other Indigenous communities around the world.

Co-hosted by the Canadian Paediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics, this meeting brings together health care providers and researchers working with children, youth and families in American Indian, Alaska Native, First Nations, Inuit, Métis and other Indigenous communities. Participants share model programs and research, learn about prevalent health problems, and acquire practical skills for use in community settings. Opportunities to share knowledge and support one another’s efforts, to network and develop partnerships are built into the program.

The conference organizers represent Aboriginal and Native American organizations in Canada and the United States. Submission deadline is November 3, 2014 by 9 pm EDT.

Learn more about the conference. Submit abstract.

New Approaches Needed for People with Serious Mental Illnesses in Criminal Justice System

Posted: October 20, 2014

Responding to the large number of people with serious mental illnesses in the criminal justice system will require more than mental health services, according to a new report.

In many ways, the criminal justice system is the largest provider of mental health services in the country. Estimates vary, but previous research has found that about 14 percent of persons in the criminal justice system have a serious mental illness, and that number is as high as 31 percent for female inmates. Researchers are defining serious mental illnesses to include such things as schizophrenia, bipolar spectrum disorders and major depressive disorders.

"It has been assumed that untreated symptoms of mental illness caused criminal justice involvement, but now we're seeing that there is little evidence to support that claim," said Matthew Epperson, assistant professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Specialized interventions for people with mental illness in the criminal justice system have been developed over the past 20 years, such as mental health courts and jail diversion programs, Epperson said.

"But we need a new generation of interventions for people with serious mental health issues who are involved in the criminal justice system, whether it be interactions with police, jails, probation programs and courts," he said. "Research shows that people with serious mental illnesses, in general, display many of the same risk factors for criminal involvement as persons without these conditions."

Epperson and his colleagues are the authors of a paper in the September-October 2014 theme issue on "New Directions in Corrections and Mental Health," published by the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry.


Hip-Hop Therapy is New Route to Mental Wellbeing, Say Psychiatrists

Posted: October 17, 2014

From its roots in rap, graffiti, DJing and breakdancing in the Bronx borough of New York in the 1970s, hip-hop has grown to become a global cultural and commercial powerhouse. But now UK researchers believe they have found a new use for it: as a treatment for mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression.

The group says that hip-hop provides individuals with a sense of empowerment and self-knowledge that could be exploited to help people tackle their own psychological problems. There is an intrinsic awareness of issues connected with mental health in many forms of hip-hop art, it is argued.

To help promote the idea, neuroscientist Becky Inkster, of Cambridge University department of psychiatry, and consultant psychiatrist Akeem Sule, of the South Essex Partnership Trust, have formed Hip Hop Psych – which they describe as a social venture – to promote the use of hip-hop as an aid to the treatment of mental illness.

Uses of hip-hop envisaged by Inkster and Sule include having patients write and rap their own lyrics as part of their therapy. It is also proposed that hip-hop could be used in teaching medical students about psychiatric illnesses.

“One technique we want to explore is to get individuals who are seeking therapy to write out where they see themselves in a year or two and to use rap lyrics to outline their future histories,” said Inkster.

“Many key rappers and hip-hop artists come from deprived urban areas which are often hotbeds for problems such as drug abuse, domestic violence and poverty, which are in turn linked to increased occurrences of psychiatric illnesses,” she added. “These problems are rooted in their language and in their songs.”


Take the Challenge! My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge

Posted: October 16, 2014

In February, President Obama launched the My Brother's Keeper (MBK) initiative to ensure that all youth, including boys and young men of color, have opportunities to improve their life outcomes and overcome barriers to success.

And now, the Administration is taking this effort local, by engaging mayors, tribal leaders, and county executives who are stepping up to lead in their communities.

The My Brother's Keeper Community Challenge will encourage communities (cities, counties, suburbs, rural municipalities, and tribal nations) to implement coherent cradle-to-college-and-career strategies aimed at improving life outcomes for all young people.

The stakes couldn't be higher for our young people, or our country, which is why we're seeing such eagerness from local officials and community leaders. Already, 135 mayors, county officials, tribal leaders, Democrats, and Republicans have signed on. And we're going to keep welcoming them aboard in the coming weeks and months.

But even with leadership from the top in these communities, this must be an all-hands-on-deck effort. No child in this country should feel like they need to "beat the odds" in order to get ahead, and certainly shouldn't feel like they are on their own as they try. Our young people deserve better than that, and as a country, we can't afford to let so many of our children, our future workers, and our future leaders slip through the cracks.

When we work together to help all young people reach their full potential, we will be that much closer to reaching our full potential as a nation. The My Brother's Keeper Community Challenge is a call to action, and we all have a role to play.

Learn more about the Challenge, and visit to accept the President's challenge.

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