News & Announcements
What Works to Keep Teens From Drinking and Smoking
Posted: December 12, 2013
There is so much negativity around teenagers that it is a breath of fresh air to hear about a program that is making a positive impact. The Communities That Care program is one such program that is helping to stop the negative behaviors of smoking, drinking, and crime that, in media stories, are often shown to be linked to teens across the United States.
The goal of this program, which truly is community-based and led, is to help teens avoid alcohol and tobacco use as well as help stop them from engaging in violent or criminal behaviors. Research shows that when teens avoid exposure to these negative influences during their middle school years, they are much less likely to develop ongoing addiction and behavioral problems. This includes the use of tobacco and alcohol, where research now shows that avoiding use of these substances until after 18 years of age leads to much lower risk of their use as the teens move into adulthood.
The program, developed by J. David Hawkins and Richard Catalano of the University of Washington Social Development Research Group, addresses the key risk factors and protective factors that are in place in a given community. Each local coalition of stakeholders chooses policies and programs that address the needs that are specific to middle school children and teenagers in their own community.
The research shows that this community-based and led intervention really does produce results. Children who were trained using the strategies in the Communities That Care program were tracked and all groups reported a decrease in delinquency, tobacco and alcohol use, and violence.
Uneven Gains in AIDS/HIV in Different Populations
Posted: December 11, 2013
A quarter century ago, when the AIDS epidemic was at its peak in the United States, HIV was the No. 1 killer of Americans ages 25 to 44. Now, with new treatment options, it's the sixth-leading cause of death for that group, and the number of new diagnoses each year is less than half of what it once was.
But, as a new report on AIDS in America points out, certain populations have not made as many gains over the disease. The good news: The nation's AIDS awareness is high. About 82 percent of Americans who have HIV today have been formally diagnosed, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health research organization that published an analysis of AIDS in the United States this year.
Antiretroviral therapy drugs are very effective in stopping HIV progression and extending lives, but patients must take multiple pills at precise times each day and receive regular medical care. As a result, only 1 in 4 patients is adhering to a treatment regimen closely enough to suppress the virus.
Blacks and Latinos have rates of HIV diagnosis that far surpass rates among whites, and they are less likely to get the recommended treatment. Many Southern states and the District of Columbia have rates many times above the national average. These numbers paint a picture of the United States' successes and challenges in the battle with AIDS.
Univision Launches Partnership With Clinton Foundation to Empower Latino Communities
Posted: December 10, 2013
Univision Communications, Inc., in partnership with government agencies, the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation and other nonprofits, has announced an outreach initiative to empower Latino communities.
Launched as a multiplatform awareness campaign, Univision Contigo (“Univision With You”) will expand the company’s efforts to serve and empower the 55 million Hispanics living in the United States by boosting their educational attainment, improving their health and well-being, promoting financial literacy and small business entrepreneurship, and strengthening civic engagement. Univision also is partnering with Too Small to Fail — a joint initiative of Next Generation and the Clinton Foundation that works to improve the health and well-being of children up to the age of five — to bolster its efforts and those of its longstanding partners, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education, to boost educational attainment among Latinos.
To that end, the Univision Contigo campaign will leverage the company’s media assets, including its broadcast and cable TV networks, local television and radio stations, and numerous digital platforms, to reach out to Latinos in the U.S.; eventually, the campaign will be expanded to include grassroots activities. In addition, the initiative’s Web site, UnivisionContigo.com, will provide online resources and tools — in English and Spanish — to help families assess their situation, set goals, and take steps needed to succeed.
Peer Bridgers:The Rare Mental-Health Fixers
Posted: December 09, 2013
Peer bridgers use the power of mental health recovery stories to reduce psychiatric hospitalizations, writes Seattle Times columnist Jonathan Martin:
Crystal looked down at her bowl of handmade pasta like she expected it to suddenly disappear. You can understand her hesitation. The day before, she was in a West Seattle psychiatric hospital after being committed for wandering Seattle streets, suicidal. This day, she lived in a downtown Seattle homeless shelter, a 57-year-old woman adrift, without a phone, clothes or identification.
Enter Dennis Villas and Mary McDonald. Their job for the day was to make sure Crystal got a square meal — the pasta at an Italian bistro downtown — and a phone. Then they would get her a first appointment with the public mental-health provider across the street. “We’re not going to leave until we have a case manager,” said Villas, 43, with inspiring confidence.
Mary and Dennis’s job title — peer bridgers — is new to the local mental-health system, but so intuitive it is a no-brainer. Mary and Dennis help ease patients out of Navos, a community psychiatric hospital in West Seattle, and, for up to three months, help to plant them in new lives firmly enough that they won’t quickly need readmission.
What’s unique about peer bridgers is they have to know the territory and be in recovery themselves. Mary was an office-supply saleswoman before she nearly died from untreated bipolar disorder and alcoholism. Dennis had a good career in the investment industry before losing it to methamphetamine and meth-induced psychosis. Their shared struggle offers a quick inroad to gain their clients’ trust.
Crystal, at first, wasn’t interested in help. But when Mary and Dennis shared, she opened up. They spent weeks just helping Crystal gather documents to get an identification card, which is necessary for her to get other help.
Read more on SeattleTimes.com.
Life-Saving Suicide Prevention Resources Address Critical Need in Juvenile Justice System
Posted: December 07, 2013
When it comes to high risk for suicide, youth in contact with the juvenile justice system stand out. It is alarming. Fortunately, staff within the system can play a crucial preventive role by working collectively to provide guidance, support and access to needed care. Studies show that up to 70 percent of youth in the system have a behavioral health problem, and for a large percentage, one or more life functions are significantly affected. An at-risk youth’s past nearly always includes multiple adverse childhood events; this, combined with the sense of hopelessness and isolation that ensues from the experience of confinement, increases the suicide risk for these youth to a level dramatically higher than for youth outside the system. The statistics are startling:
It is time to turn the tide. We must offer a brighter future to these youth. Everyone who contacts these youth, whether in juvenile justice, law enforcement, mental health, substance abuse, child welfare or education, must work collaboratively in order to successfully prevent suicide; and, in order for them to work collaboratively, the systems they work in must come together to provide “client-centered” services that are seamless to the individuals and families they serve. Suicide prevention should begin at the initial point of entry and be coordinated to protect youth at the following points of contact: referral/arrest, courts, probation, detention and aftercare.
To address this critical need, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) has released a set of comprehensive suicide prevention resources to support staff working with youth in the juvenile justice system.