Encouraging Healthy Relationships
April is about spring and renewal, a chance to start anew in our daily lives. This year, let’s resolve to use this month to begin exploring healthy sexuality and to having healthier relationships! April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the theme this year is “It’s Time… To Talk About It.” Most of us can identify unhealthy relationship behaviors but have difficulty defining what exactly constitutes healthy relationship behaviors. It’s time to start talking about it! The more we discuss healthy sexuality and relationship behaviors, the better we will understand them and the more likely we will be to practice and model them. And let’s not forget that the identification and promotion of consensual and respectful relationships and interactions naturally leads to the primary prevention of sexually violent behavior. That’s something we can all feel good about!
So what exactly is healthy sexuality? Glad you asked! According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC):
“Healthy sexuality means having the knowledge and power to express sexuality in ways that enrich one’s life. It includes approaching sexual interactions and relationships from a perspective that is consensual, respectful and informed. Healthy sexuality is free from coercion and violence.”
Raising Awareness of Women's Use and Abuse of Alcohol
This month also marks a nationwide focus on the health effects of alcohol with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.'s campaign of "Healthy Choices, Healthy Communities: Prevent Underage Drinking." The World Health Organization calls attention to the issue by stating that "the harmful use of alcohol [is] a global problem which compromises both individual and social development.It results in 2.5 million deaths each year. Alcohol is the world's third largest risk factor for premature mortality, disability, and loss of health." And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the economic cost of alcoholism and alcohol abuse to be $223.5 billion ($746 per person), because of society's collective affection for beverage alcohol, we do not get overly alarmed. The CDC costs relate to a drop in workplace productivity, health care expenses, law enforcement expenses and motor vehicle crash costs from impaired driving.
In Indiana the statistics are equally concerning. The 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data show that 8.8% of female respondents reported having four or more drinks on one occassion and the highest rate was among women aged 25-34, notably of childbearing years, which showed that 13.7% of the women in this age range report having four or more drinks on one occassion. While moderate alcohol consumption may have some health benefits primarily related to reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, excessive drinking can lead to many adverse health and social consequences including injury, violence, risky sexual behavior, alcoholism, unemployment, liver diseases and various cancers. And, despite being less likely to binge drink or drink heavily, women tend to face alcohol-related problems at a lower drinking level than men do due to differences in body size and other biological factors.
The National Prevention Strategy, released in June 2011 by the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council, recommends promoting efforts to encourage young people not to drink or use other drugs, and supports certain restrictions added to current alcohol policies and laws. The Council also recommends strategies to identify alcohol and other drug abuse disorders early and encourages providers to implement Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) services. Additionally, the Council has set a 10 year goal to reduce the proportion of adults aged 18 years and older who reported that they engaged in binge drinking during the past month to 24.3% from the current percentage of 27.0%.
To learn more about services and resources available to Hoosiers who seek information on addiction and/or mental health and recovery, please visit http://www.in.gov/fssa/dmha/index.htm
Are YOU Ready to Put Wheels to the Road?
The Indiana State Department of Health's Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity staff recently particpated in a webinar opportunity on empowering women to bicycle for transportation hosted by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals. The session outlined how women are currently underserved in the United States as part of the bicycling public.
OWH found a website recommended to be a wealth of information for women interested in bicycling. The site includes a synopsis of a 2011 Washington Post
Best Books winner on the history of women in the bicycling movement, results from a recent survey on women's cycling garnering 13,000+ responses and a link to the above-mentioned webinar. If you enjoy cycling already or are considering taking up cycling for recreation or physical activity, you will not want to miss this great resource: http://www.womencyclingproject.info/
For women who wish to feel more confident and learn about bicycle maintenance, the Evansville-area Trails Coalition
has organized a Bicycle Maintenance and Safety Class for Women
that will be free to attend and will include instruction from Sgt. Jason Cullum of the Evansville Police Department, a certified instructor. The class will cover the basics of bike repair, from how to change a tire to when to adjust the gears and is being offered on Saturday, April 14
at 10 a.m. at Garvin Park near the shelter by the greenway trailhead and on Monday, April 16
at 6 p.m. near the Evansville Museum parking lot in downtown Evansville. Helmets are required for participation. Sgt. Cullum will lead a bike ride at the conclusion of each class! To register, visit firstname.lastname@example.org
. Happy biking!
Thank You, Jessica
OWH staff thanks Jessica Martin, Indiana University School of Medicine student, for presenting findings and recommendations from her month-long HPV study at OWH's booth at the 2012 Joint National Public Health Week Conference last week!
Jessica studied the laws and policies of Rhode Island and other states with comparitively high vaccination rates to review what state laws or policies were in place to help increase HPV vaccinations. Jessica gave 10 recommendations for steps that Indiana might take to achieve similar results. We greatly appreciate her hard work.