One in four American adults will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Studies show that when a person has a mental illness coupled with a physical disorder, the combination seriously impacts the effects and treatments of each issue. Dr. Karen Rhea, chief medical officer of Centerstone, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss the link between behavioral and physical health, and how integrated care works to treat both. View her interview here.

Of Tennessee’s approximately 6.2 million residents, close to 246,000 adults live with serious mental illness and about 66,000 children live with serious mental health conditions. Because these issues are so incredibly common, behavioral healthcare is growing in importance. Some of the more common disorders are clinical depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.

The clinical field widely recognizes the relationship between mental and physical health disorders. For example, if a patient with a heart disease also has depression, the risk of serious disability or early death is substantially greater. Their chance of recovery is lower due to depression’s many symptoms, including increased sadness, decrease or increase of appetite, difficulty sleeping and higher risk of suicide.

Dr. Rhea discusses the importance of integrated care, which means treating physical health disorders and behavioral health issues at the same time. The integrated approach allows for increased and improved care, reduced costs due to efficiency, eliminated unnecessary treatments and improved overall patient health.

A common misconception is that people with mental health issues simply have to try harder or “get over it.” If your mental health issues are persistent and significant, you need treatment.

If you or someone you love is dealing with mental health issues, you should know you are not alone. Contact your physician or, if you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call Mobile Crisis Services at 855-CRISIS-1.

Learn more about mental health services in Tennessee at TN.gov/behavioral-health.

One in four American adults will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Centerstone’s Dr. Karen Rhea joins us to talk about the important link between physical and mental health. If you or someone you love is dealing with mental health issues, you should know that you are not alone.

Childhood Bullying

160,000 children miss some school every day because they are frightened or intimidated by other students. By understanding the signs and symptoms of bullying, you can help your child implement best practices in bullying prevention for themselves and their peers. Eric Johnson, vice president of youth development of STARS Nashville, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss bullying. View his interview here.

Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school and mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and decreased academic achievement. They are also more likely to miss, skip or drop out of school.

With the rise of social media, cyber bullying has become a very serious issue, allowing kids to instantly and anonymously cause harm to other children. Cyber bullying suicides account for 4,400 annual deaths in teens and younger children, according to the CDC.

Unfortunately, bullied children are often too embarrassed or frightened to seek help. Statistics from the 2012 Indicators of School Crime and Safety show that an adult was notified in less than half of bullying incidents.

Some warning signs that could indicate a bullying problem are:

  • Unexplainable injuries or bruises
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics or jewelry
  • Frequently faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like skipping meals or binge eating
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors, such as running away from home, harming themselves or talking about suicide

Seeking to fight against this bullying epidemic, the MOVE-2-STAND program at Stars Nashville is designed to help students recognize the harmful effects of bullying and harassment. The interactive one-day youth summit creates empathy and helps young leaders understand how bullying impacts school climate and communities.

A large part of the program focuses on the responsibility of bystanders to physically step in and protect the child being bullied. Bullying isolates a person. MOVE-2-STAND suggests that bystanders can support the bullied child by speaking to them, giving them a compliment or including them in a social activity.

If your child is the one being bullied, MOVE-2-STAND says they should be assertive and tell the bully to stop. Then, they should tell an adult like a teacher, principal or parent.

For more information about how to prevent bullying, visit StopBullying.gov and StarsNashville.org.

Did you know that 160,000 children miss some amount of school every day because they are frightened or intimidated by other students? Star Nashville’s Eric Johnson discusses the signs and symptoms of bullying, so you can help your child implement best practices in bullying prevention.

Zika Virus

Making international headlines, the Zika virus is a new health concern public health professionals are learning more about each day. Dr. Abelardo Moncayo, director of the Tennessee Department of Health’s vector-borne disease program, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss how you can best protect yourself against Zika. View his interview here.

If not pregnant, people sick with the Zika virus usually only experience mild symptoms and do not require treatment outside of rest, fluids, and common pain and fever medications. However, a Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause severe fetal development problems like microcephaly, a medical condition in which the brain does not form properly resulting in a smaller than normal head. These complications can lead to serious problems with a child’s cognitive abilities and neurological functions.

Zika virus symptoms begin three to 12 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Unfortunately, there are currently no treatments or vaccines to protect against the Zika virus infection, which can be transmitted sexually.

The only protection is prevention. To avoid mosquito bites, wear light-colored clothes that cover as much of the body as possible, use insect repellent containing DEET and remove clear standing water that could be a potential mosquito breeding site from your property.

For general information about Zika virus and surveillance for mosquito-borne diseases in Tennessee, call your Regional or County Health Department or the Tennessee Department of Health at 615-741-7247. For the latest updates on the Zika Virus, visit CDC.gov/zika.

Protection against mosquito bites is key to preventing the Zika virus infection. Ward off mosquitos by wearing light-colored clothes that cover as much of the body as possible, using insect repellent containing DEET, and avoiding standing water that could be mosquito breeding sites.

Protection against mosquito bites is key to preventing the Zika virus infection. Ward off mosquitoes by wearing light-colored clothes that cover as much of the body as possible, using insect repellent containing DEET, and avoiding standing water that could be mosquito breeding sites. More on the Zika virus from the Tennessee Department of Health’s Dr. Abelardo Moncayo.

Childhood Nutrition

Can’t get your children to stomach anything leafy or green?  In Tennessee, more than 20 percent of 10- to 17-year-olds are obese. McKel Hill, a registered dietician and nutrition coach, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss how to change this statistic and make healthy food fun for your kids. View her entire interview here.

Tennessee has the 14th highest adult obesity rate in the nation. By teaching your child healthy eating habits, you can help them live healthier lives now and into adulthood.

The key to a well-balanced diet is a focus on whole foods such as fruits, vegetable, nuts, seeds and legumes. Whenever possible, prepare ahead of time and always have healthy food on hand. For example, McKel described the ideal child’s lunch as half an avocado with lime and sea salt, a protein such as chicken or beans, veggies like carrot sticks or celery, carbohydrates such as oatmeal or a sweet potato, and a beverage of water or tea.

Certain foods are pivotal for childhood development. Calcium and phosphorus benefit developing teeth, omega-3 fatty acids found in tuna and salmon are vital for brain development, and the probiotics in yogurt and fermented vegetables support intestinal health and the immune system.

Having trouble getting your kid to eat healthy foods? Thirteen to 22 percent of children are reported to be picky eaters. Try to avoid refined sugars, processed food, soda and candy, substituting healthier options. A few alternatives Mckel suggests are butternut squash instead of macaroni and cheese and a dark chocolate avocado mousse rather than ice cream.

The easiest way to sneak veggies into your child’s diet? Smoothies! A simple, delicious treat for breakfast, lunch or snack, smoothies can contain any fruit or vegetable of your choosing. Just avoid any unnecessary sugars or sweeteners!

Remember: healthy eating is a lifestyle, not a diet, so it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. She suggests eating nutrient-dense foods 80 percent of the time, then allowing 20 percent for splurges like chocolate, pizza or candy.

Creating a positive relationship with food now will establish good eating behaviors throughout your child’s life. For more information on healthy eating, visit uhc.com.