Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wading through the aftermath

Traumatic events bring with them a host of reactions—shock, fear, anger, and an insatiable quest to understand “why here, why now?”. Residents of Chardon, Ohio, are experiencing that range of emotions this week as they grapple with a school shooting that has claimed the lives of three students and wounded two others.

Dr. Jessie Klein, assistant professor in sociology and criminal justice at Adelphi was on CNN this morning to discuss the Ohio shooting incident. Author of the upcoming book The Bully Society: School Shootings, and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools, Dr. Kleinfocused on the increasing isolation and fear that plague many school-aged children. She advised us to avoid looking for “red flags” in individual students and instead to look for “red flag” schools, whose cultures may promote mistreatment among students. Dr. Klein was also a guest on the Brian Leher show on WNYC, where she offered additional insight into the evolution of bullying and school shooting incidents in the United States, the impact of bullying on children, and schools’ roles in prevention.

The next few weeks will shine an increased spotlight on issues of bullying and violence in schools, as friends, family, and the public-at-large are searching for answers. But is our search helping us prevent future tragedies? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine’s day and your health: a lifelong relationship

Have you noticed that things seem a little more pink, cheerful, and flowery lately? That’s because today is Valentine’s Day, a holiday that is as loathed as it is loved. If you’ve turned on a TV or been anywhere online today, you’ve likely come across the most common complaint of day: it’s yet another “Hallmark Holiday” invented as a way to sell trinkets and candy and cards. (If you feel strongly about the day but can’t quite find the right words for your own Facebook or Twitter posts, consider getting some help from trusted status experts.)

There does, however, appear to be at least some historical record of Valentine’s Day. If you want to delve into day’s murky past, The History Channel offers a rather comprehensive explanation of the holiday—while also sharing that approximately 150 million greeting cards are exchanged on the day.
The Rebel Yell, the award-winning official student newspaper of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas offers a different perspective on the holiday. Columnist Doc Bradley says we shouldn’t blame Hallmark for just continuing the tradition of Valentine’s Day as a scam, and advises us to remember “that truth and romance are not necessarily the best of friends.”

Feeling happy and lovey-dovey yet?

Whether created or historic, Valentine’s Day is a holiday you simply can’t escape. Media coverage takes a certain delight in drawing the single vs. non single battle lines, painting each side as worthy of both envy and pity. There are online survival guides that encourage those without a partner to proactively ward off the negative impact of Valentine’s day by making plans, and not defining themselves by their relationship status. A recent counter to Valentine’s Day is Singles Awareness Day. If you’re not sure how to celebrate properly, you can get a quick primer here on all things S.A.D.

If you think being in a couple makes Valentine’s Day all roses: think again. CNN contributor and comedian Dean Obeidallah provides perhaps this year’s most comprehensive perspective on why couples are the big losers on Valentine’s Day. The pressure of the day makesValentine’s Day “the bully of love,” writes Kelli Forsythe, relationship therapist with Psychological Counseling Services, Ltd. It can also shine an unwelcome spotlight on issues within a couple.

But the recipe for couples’ success on Valentine’s Day is no different from any other day. As renown psychologist Esther Perel notes, “love flourishes in an atmosphere of mutuality and reciprocity.” Later this month, Dr. Perel, an international authority on couple therapy, cross-cultural relations, and culture and sexuality, will be a guest of the Adelphi University School of Social Work Continuing Education and Professional Development program. Her all-day workshop on February 24 will focus on “The Psychology of Erotic Desire in Couples.”

Whether you’re single, paired up, or somewhere in between, perhaps today we should just take a tip from family mental health blogger Erica Krull, and embrace a day that is “about sharing and showing love.” After all, the love of family, friends, and yes, partners is good for us—mentally, physically, and emotionally. Love can keep our blood pressure low, it can reduce stress, and it can bring an added level of fulfillment to our every day lives.

See? No flowers or candy necessary.

Friday, February 3, 2012

What have we learned from the Komen/Planned Parenthood controversy?

This was an eventful week in the world of breast cancer fundraising and healthcare issues. On Tuesday, The Susan G. Komen foundation made public their decision to stop providing grants to Planned Parenthood. According to the New York Times, their decision would impact “breast cancer screening and education programs run by Planned Parenthood affiliates.”

This set off a flurry of reaction—including an outpouring of social media commentary, advocacy, and action. In the wake of this response, the Susan G. Komen foundation reversed their decision and announced today that they would continue to fund the screening and education programs run by Planned Parenthood affiliates.

The Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program has stayed on top of the story as it unfolded and their staff offers “5 Lessons We Have Learned from the Komen/Planned Parenthood Controversy:”
  1. Don’t underestimate the power of your voice.
  2. Social media is an incredible avenue for change.
  3. Breast cancer and the needs of women are larger than political, ideological and cultural differences.
  4. Millions of Americans recognize that we have a responsibility to assure that all women have access to quality health care.
  5. Breast cancer affects everyone.

What have you learned from this? Please join the discussion on Facebook.